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More public-sector strikes to hit France over Macron's pension raid

NURSES, doctors, aeroplane staff and lawyers are due to walk out on strike tomorrow over French President Emmanuel Macron’s pensions raid.

The mass action follows transport workers’ strikes that paralysed Paris on Friday. Mass opposition has already led Mr Macron to pause some of the proposals, such as raising the retirement age, as the government fears reigniting the huge Yellow Vests protests that rocked the country following his attempt to raise taxes on fuel.

But it is still proposing “reforms” that will massively raise pension contributions in certain occupations — clinic-based nurses say their contributions are set to double.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has acknowledged that reducing pension spending is required if France is to reduce its deficit in line with EU rules, though President Macron claims the process is about standardising an “unfair” pensions system in which dozens of different schemes exist and public-sector workers get better pensions than private-sector ones.

But the socialist France Unbowed leader Jean-Luc Melenchon said this was merely an attempt to play different workers off against each other to attack pensions across the board.

He congratulated transport workers of Paris’s RATP state operator for their action on Friday, dismissing the idea that their pension arrangements were unfair and pointing out that retirement ages and pensions should reflect the reality of people’s jobs, earlier retirement for Metro workers having been negotiated to compensate them for working long hours underground.

“Why are there special arrangements? Because there were special conditions. Because there is a social history,” he said.

“Sometimes [government] said ‘oh no, we can’t give you a raise, but you can retire earlier…’ these compromises are the story of class struggle in our country. You can’t scratch them away with the stroke of a pen.”

And he attacked the logic of raising retirement ages to reflect rising life expectancy — pointing out that since former president Nicolas Sarkozy raised France’s pension age to 62, the rise in life expectancy had halted.


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