Pension Reform: Emmanuel Macron Remains Relentless, Unions Disappointed

General News
Metro corridors at Châtelet station in Paris, on the 19th day of the strike movement against the pension reform, on December 23, 2019.

After the vows pronounced by Emmanuel Macron, the unions remain dissatisfied and see “nothing new”. As for the President, he says “to carry out the reform”.

The strike against the pension reform entered on Wednesday 1st January 2020 in its 28th day, equaling most the blocking ng of transport since 1986-87, without looming the “fast compromise” wished by Emmanuel Macron during his vows, unions see it as “nothing new”.

“Nothing new” according to Martinez

Tuesday evening from the Elysee Palace, the president pleaded “appeasement” rather than “confrontation” but without reversing his determination to “carry out pension reform”.

“With the trade unions and employers’ organizations who want it, I expect the government of Edouard Philippe to find the way to a rapid compromise” on this project, he said in a sober speech of 18 minutes, where the secretary-general of the CGT has detected “nothing new”.

Philippe Martinez denounced Wednesday a speech “heard a thousand times” and “a president locked in his bubble who considers that all is well in the country”, on the set of BFMTV.

“Of course”, the number 1 of the CGT says it is ready to go to the next consultation meeting in Matignon on January 7, but it “always asks to stop the project, therefore the withdrawal”.

The same scepticism in FO : Yves Veyrier notes that the President “has not succeeded” in convincing in “2 and a half years” and calls for “demonstrating even more as of January 9th”.


The CFDT, which plays a key role since the first trade union organization is also the only one favourable in substance to the universal pension system by points, did not react to the presidential remarks.

Its secretary-general Laurent Berger has made the pivotal age, below which we cannot retire with a full pension, a “red line”. Emmanuel Macron did not discuss this subject on Tuesday.

For Benoît Teste, secretary-general of the FSU, the first organisation among teachers, asked about France Inter, these are “wishes for nothing”, where the President “always reminiscent of the same elements of language”.

“I do not see any elements that could constitute exit doors.”

Very present in the various processions in December, the teachers are also a key element in the way out of the crisis.

On the reformist union side, Laurent Escure (Unsa) however “understood that there was still a sign of openness on what the Prime Minister must do with us to try to find a compromise”, on the air in France inter.

Discussions between the social partners and the Prime Minister should be largely devoted to the issue of arduousness.

Without pronouncing the term – which we have known since October 3 that he “does not adore, because it gives the feeling that work is painful” -, the president reminded Tuesday that the reform “will take into account difficult tasks, to allow those who exercise them to leave earlier, without being linked to a status or a business ”.

SNCF strike record

Created by the pension reform of 2013, the arduousness account originally included ten criteria, including the carrying of heavy loads, painful postures, mechanical vibrations and dangerous chemical agents, but these four items were removed at the end of 2017.

“The last time I saw the Prime Minister, he said no” to the reinstatement of the four criteria, assured Wednesday Philippe Martinez.

Pending the reopening of negotiations, the French will have to deal with transport that is still disturbed.

The SNCF plans on Thursday 2nd January 2020, one TGV in 2 on average. The situation will improve for the weekend of the return from vacation, where the SNCF intends to run 2 TGV in 3.

However, deterioration is not to be excluded next week, with the resumption on Monday of the general assemblies of railway workers. He said at the microphone of Europe 1 : 

“When you have lost a month’s salary, you do not go back to work just [after] good wishes from a president out of touch with reality.”

And on January 7, the CGT Federation of Chemistry calls to strengthen the movement to block petroleum installations – refineries, petroleum terminals, deposits – for 96 hours, until January 10.

Thierry Defresne, the central union representative at Total, even mentions a possible stoppage of production, but only depending on the extent of the inter-professional mobilisation on January 9th.

The pension reform bill is due to be presented to the Council of Ministers on January 22nd.

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