Thousands of French citizens took to the streets on Saturday for a seventh day of protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform plan, which aims to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 and unify 42 different pension schemes into one universal system.
The protesters, who included workers from various sectors such as transport, education, health and public services, marched in Paris and other cities across the country, waving flags, banners and placards denouncing the government’s proposal.
They chanted slogans such as “Macron, withdraw your plan” and “No to the pension robbery”, and called for more social justice and solidarity. Some also expressed their anger at the police violence that marred previous demonstrations.
The protest was organized by a coalition of trade unions, student groups and left-wing parties, who have been leading the opposition to the pension reform since it was unveiled in December 2019. They claim that the reform will force people to work longer for lower pensions and reduce their rights and benefits.
The government, however, argues that the reform is necessary to simplify the complex and costly pension system and make it fairer and more sustainable for future generations. It says that the reform will not affect the value of pensions or the minimum retirement age, but will only encourage people to work longer to get a full pension.
The government also says that it has made several concessions to appease some of the protesters’ demands, such as exempting certain professions like police officers, firefighters and nurses from the new rules, and postponing the implementation of the reform until after the coronavirus pandemic.
The pension reform has been one of the most contentious and divisive issues in Macron’s presidency, sparking a wave of strikes and protests that have disrupted public services and economic activity for months. The reform has also eroded Macron’s popularity and credibility, as well as his chances of winning a second term in next year’s presidential election.
The protesters have vowed to continue their mobilization until the government withdraws its plan completely. They have called for another nationwide strike and demonstration on March 18, as well as local actions throughout the month.