By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
PARIS (Worthy News) – More than a million people marched through France cities to condemn President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030 in a nation where the right to free time has been religiously observed.
Macron, accused of “fleeing to Spain” for a visit during Thursday’s rallies, also aims to increase the duration of contributions required to receive a full pension from 42 to 43 years.
Those saying “non” to Macron’s plans included workers halting trains, blocking refineries, and curbing power generation.
Late Thursday, tens of thousands of French workers were still seen protesting after rallies and strikes in cities such as Paris, Nantes, Lyon, Bordeaux, Marseille, and Toulouse.
Around 10,000 police officers were deployed amid fears of violence. “Today’s mobilization reflects the massive opposition. I think nearly 80 percent of the people are against it, especially among the youngest people,” said Philippe Martinez, Head of the CGT Trade Union. “So today’s mobilization reflects the opposition of the citizens of this country to this reform,” Martinez told the media.
Murielle Guilbert, co-general delegate of the Solidaires trade union, claimed it was time for a “different distribution of wealth.” Guilbert believes, “There are ways of financing public services and social protection, except that Macron doesn’t want to talk about it, and that’s the crux of the problem.”
The national strike clearly overshadowed Macron’s visit to Barcelona for talks with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
“It is a reform that has been presented in a democratic way, that has been validated,” explained Macron when asked about the issue at a joint press conference with Sanchez. “And that is a reform that is fair and responsible,” Macron added.
It also comes amid tensions with wealthy nations such as the Netherlands, which has been raising its pension age to over 67.
Critics say the Dutch government should leave the eurozone of nations using the euro, such as France. They claim as the budget-conscious Netherlands effectively contributes to countries with generous pensions through bond-buying programs and loans.
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