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Opposition, trade unions lash out at French president's pension reform speech

Opposition, trade unions lash out at French president's pension reform speech
Workers gear up for 9th round of protests, walkouts on March 23 as furor against controversial plan mounts

By Nur Asena Erturk

ANKARA (AA) — Opposition parties and trade unions across France were united in outrage on Wednesday after a speech by President Emmanuel Macron on his adminsitration's pension reform plan.

Vowing not to budge from his aim to push through the controversial reform, which would see the minimum retirement age increase by two years, Macron said in an interview with broadcasters France 2 and TF1 that the bill would pursue its democratic path and "must enter into force this year."

Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the far-left La France Insoumise party, accused Macron of arrogance and being out of touch with reality, the daily Le Figaro reported.

The General Labor Confederation's (CGT) Secretary-General Philippe Martinez also blamed the president for showing contempt to millions of protesters who took to the streets in opposition of the proposal.

Marine Le Pen, right-wing politician from the National Rally party, likewise said Macron was disrespecting the French nation.

- Protests, walkouts planned for Thursday

Trade unions are preparing for a ninth round of protests on Thursday.

The country has been facing non-stop demonstrations since March 16, when Macron and Prime minister Elisabeth Borne decided to use constitutional powers to adopt the bill without parliamentary consent.

Demonstrations started earlier across France before Macron's televised speech and continued into the afternoon.

Workers are also planning continued walkouts that began two weeks ago in many sectors, including education and transportation.

- Pension reform plan, source of popular furor

The French government used special constitutional powers last week to force the plan through, prompting opposing parties to submit no-confidence motions that were later rejected.

Macron and Borne decided to invoke Article 49.3 of the constitution, a mechanism that lets the government adopt a draft bill without parliamentary approval.

The decision was driven by fear that lawmakers would be able to block the reforms as the government does not hold an absolute majority in the legislature.

The government revealed the reform project in January and parliament started examining and debating the draft bill the following month.

Workers and trade unions have since expressed growing outrage by holding demonstrations and walkouts.

The reform project includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030, requiring at least 43 years of work to be eligible for a full pension.

source: News Feed
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