With no pending agreement on pension reform, France is entering decisive days of political crisis

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The day before the big trade union march in France on April 6, Prime Minister Elizabeth Borne will receive the federations and workers’ unions who oppose the pension reform project and are calling for its retirement. But a abandonment of pension reform is ‘off the agenda’ for the government of President Emmanuel Macron.

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The executive remains intransigent on the postponement of the legal retirement age to 64, refusing to suspend a “necessary” reform. Borne began a series of political consultations on Monday in Matignon, his official residence.

Borne wants to “listen” to the unions, “despite disagreements”. Since Monday, meetings have multiplied to try to “calm” tensions, consultations boycotted by the left.

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If the government does not intend to reconsider the heart of its reform, it is still possible to discuss how to implement it, before its entry into force, scheduled for September, according to Borne.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne.  photo by AFP

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne. photo by AFP


The government faces a serious problem with the Intersindical. Laurent Berger, the moderate leader of the CFDT, France’s first trade union, has not spoken to President Emmanuel Macron and has hated himself since the days when the current president was Francois Hollande’s Elysee general secretary. That’s why Berger called “a mediator”, which the government rejected. They have never spoken to each other personally during this crisis.

But Philippe Martinez, the former leader of the CGT, which became the number two center in France, ended his mandate last week and was replaced by Sophie Binet, a young woman, philosopher and former student leader. She is the first female leader of a workers union in France.

For Sophie Binet (CGT), the “meeting” in Matignon “will be brief” if Borne rejects the withdrawal of the pension reform.

On France Inter radio, Binet once again warned that the Intersindical’s request, Wednesday at the Matignon meeting, will be “the withdrawal of the reform” of pensions. A new dynamic is being established in the interunion.

In Fos-sur-Mer, in the south of France, a protest against Macron.  AP Photo

In Fos-sur-Mer, in the south of France, a protest against Macron. AP Photo

In case of refusal by Elisabeth Borne, “The meeting is likely to be very fast“, indicated the trade unionist, who also refuses to address other issues until pension reform is taken off the table.

“We will prepare the meeting together, at an inter-union level. But all the union organizations are determined to say that we cannot talk about other issues until we withdraw this reform. The government must understand this”, added Sophie Binet, believing that “it is not possible to lead the country if we do not withdraw this reform”.

procession of politicians

Despite the refusal of left-wing parliamentary groups to go to Palazzo Matignon, the prime minister assures that “the majority of political forces want”, like you, “appease the country”even if there are “disagreements”.

“I have no doubts” that “we are building together an agenda to give answers to the French”, he adds.

The prime minister will meet this Wednesday.s in the afternoon with the presidents of the parliamentary groups and the heads of the majority parties, after the meeting with the trade unions.

None of the parliamentary groups of the New Popular Ecological and Social Union (Nupes) responded to the proposal of the Prime Minister to discuss the executive’s political and parliamentary agenda.

But that won’t stop Marine Tondelier, environmentalist number 1, from traveling to Matignon as party leader to “talk about reducing violence”.

“I will listen to all issues,” Élisabeth Borne promised before receiving the inter-union announcement on Wednesday.

Beyond this pension reform bill, “we have many issues to discuss together, including important pension reform issues,” such as “quality of life at work” or “prevention of hardship,” said the premier.

Lepenist refusal

In this political crisis, Marine Le Pen and her party, the National Assembly, are gaining strength. At the microphone of Europe 1, Jean-Philippe Tanguy, of the former Front National, lashed out against Elisabeth Borne. “He’s a zombie running a zombie government”, said the deputy of the National Group.

This bigwig from Marine Le Pen’s group believes that the prime minister “has no more political authority, room for manoeuvre” and “continues to move forward, almost unconsciously, like a zombie.”

To get out of the crisis linked to the pension reform, Jean-Philippe Tanguy invites Emmanuel Macron to hold a “referendum” or dissolve the National Assembly. So far, these two options have been rejected by the President of the Republic.

Source: Clarin

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