April 14. 2024. 6:58

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French PM won’t back down on pension reform despite union objection

The government will not change the widely opposed pension reform text adopted without a vote and led to mass protests around the country, unions confirmed after Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne met with them for the first time since January.

The government’s decision not to consider changes is “serious”, said CFTC union President Cyril Chabanier after the interunion group interrupted the meeting with the prime minister after just one hour.

It is a “democratic crisis,” said CFDT Secretary General Laurent Berger, with the new head of the CGT, Sophie Binet, saying the government is “radicalised, obtuse and disconnected”.

Borne wanted to mainly “discuss post-retirement issues, stating that workers are interested in subjects such as work-related strain and salaries”,the number two of the CFDT, Marylise Léon, told France Info, adding that “this is not the time”.

Borne, for her part, considered that the meeting marked “an important step”, acknowledging that “disagreements on age did not allow for in-depth discussions”.

Acknowledging that they had failed to sway the government, the unions called people to join the 11th day of national strikes due to take place Thursday.

“In the face of the government’s radicalisation, let’s respond by demonstrating massively tomorrow throughout the country,” tweeted Fabien Roussel, the Communist Party leader who has been very active in calling the French to protest.

While protest attendance has gradually waned, from one million for the 9th day of strikes compared to 740,000 on the 10th strike day, according to police, territorial intelligence expects between 600,000 and 800,000 protesters this time around, France Info reported.

“11,500 police and gendarmes will be mobilised throughout France, including 4,200 in Paris,” Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said on Twitter.

Opponents and advocates of the reform are eagerly awaiting the Constitutional Council’s decision on its legality, set for 14 April.

(Hugo Struna | EURACTIV.fr)