A highly controversial pensions reform plan is the target of fresh strikes and protests from some of France’s top unions, which have mobilized millions of people to the streets. The proposed adjustments include raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 and increasing the number of years someone must contribute before receiving a full state pension. The measures were central to President Emmanuel Macron’s re-election campaign last year but have proven very unpopular. According to his cabinet, adjustments are required to avoid the pension system breaking and putting the onus on younger generations.

What you should know is as follows:

What changes are made to pensions?

It is suggested that the retirement age be raised by two years to 64. From September through 2030, the adjustment will be gradual, gaining three months each year. Starting in 2027, employees will need to pay into social security over 43 years rather than 42 years in order to get a full pension. While a 2014 reform already included an extra year, Macron is quickening the pace of change. At current rates, a guaranteed minimum pension income for new retirees of at least 85% of the net minimum salary, or around 1,200 euros per month. The pensions of people on a minimal income will be inflation-indexed starting in the second year of retirement.

What impact will this have on retirees?

Increase the employment rate for people aged 60 to 64. Just 33% of people in this age group are employed in France, compared to 61% in Germany and 69% in Sweden. According to projections from the labor ministry, the changes will result in annual pension contributions totaling 17.7 billion euros by 2030. According to the government, the pensions of the poorest 30% of the population will rise by 2.5 to 5%. Unions assert that modest increases in contributions could maintain their viability. They contend that the proposed changes would unfairly disadvantage low-skilled workers in demanding jobs who are just starting their careers.

What has the general opinion been?

Thousands of people participated in nationwide protests against Macron’s administration during the last several months. After rail workers joined the planned protests, train services, and the Paris Metro were disrupted. On January 31, the largest day of protests so far, 1.27 million people took to the streets. Rolling strikes on public transportation, which could paralyze parts of the nation for weeks at a time, have been warned off by unions. The far-right party of Marine Le Pen has also highlighted reservations with Macron’s planned adjustments while voicing alarm about efforts to paralyze France with continued strikes.

What has recently happened locally?

After unions vowed to “bring the country to a standstill,” protests began on Tuesday with roadblocks. Only one of every five regional and fast trains is expected to operate. The CGT union reported that the Esso refineries at Port Jerome, northern France, and Fos-Sur-Mer, southern France, were both on strike.

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