2019 French pension reform led to major strikes

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Publication Date December 2019
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Major strikes began on 5 December in France prior to the disclosure of the details of a pension reform proposal. More than 30 unions launched strike actions with the intention to shut down the country and force the government to cancel its plans. During the first days of strike, more than 800,000 workers from a wide range of professions but mainly from transport sector workers demonstrated against the reform. Since, and despite the disclosure of the government's proposal, strike have continued with specific days where the country was paralyzed.

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The pension reform was a promise made by President Emmanuel Macron during the presidential electoral campaign back in 2017. His plans was to introduce a universal point-based pension system.

On 11 December, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe unveiled the government plan to reform the pension system. The purpose was to get rid of the country's exceptions and specialized pension regimes and create one centralized system. Indeed, France's current system has 42 different pension schemes across its private and public sectors, with variations in retirement age and benefits. The reform would make the pension plan switch to a universal points-based pension system for all workers, public and private. The pension reform also keep the mandatory minimum requirement at the age of 62 but introduce a bonus system to encourage people to work longer until the age of 64 ("pivot age") with a full pension at this age. One of the other major point of the reform was the introduction of a €1,000 minimum monthly pension for those who have worked a full career. The reform is yet far from being finalized and a draft law is due to be presented in early 2020.

Strikes and protests in response of the reform have continued. Major disruption occurred on 17 December and other strike actions are planned during the month. One of the most controversial point is the age of retirement. Union said millions of workers will end up working beyond the legal retirement age of 62. Union don't want the "pivot age "of 64. The end of the variety of profession dependent schemes is also controversial. Some workers such as train drivers can indeed take their pension at an early age than 62, which was originally seen as compensation for tough working conditions. The reform would mean the end of the early retirement.

The Christmas truce hoped for by the government was not agreed by most of Unions.

Related Links
Commentary and Analysis
Wikipedia: 2019 French pension reform strike https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_French_pension_reform_strike
Politico, 03/12/2019: France’s existential pension-reform battle https://www.politico.eu/article/france-existential-pension-reform-battle-emmanuel-macron-strike-state/
BBC News, 05/12/2019: Macron pension reform: Why are French workers on strike? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-50670613
France 24, 06/12/2019: French pension reform: What's at stake? https://www.france24.com/en/20191206-france-focus-french-pensions-reform-what-s-at-stake-strike-protests-december-5
The Guardian, 08/12/2019: Macron wants not just reform but to change the way France thinks https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/08/france-pensions-reform-emmanuel-macron
Euro|topics, December 2019: France: strikes and protests continue https://www.eurotopics.net/en/231652/france-strikes-and-protests-continue
Euro|topics, December 2019: Pension reform: No end to the turmoil in France https://www.eurotopics.net/en/232058/pension-reform-no-end-to-the-turmoil-in-france
Euronews, 10/12/2019: How can France best reform its pensions system? https://www.euronews.com/2019/12/10/how-can-france-best-reform-its-pensions-system

BBC News, 05/12/2019: Macron pension reform: France paralysed by biggest strike in years https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-50643323
Euractiv, 06/12/2019: Strong mobilisation against pension reform puts French government to the test https://www.euractiv.com/section/economy-jobs/news/strong-mobilisation-against-pension-reform-puts-french-government-to-the-test/
Euronews, 06/12/2019: France braces for more chaos as strike over pensions reform enters day two https://www.euronews.com/2019/12/04/france-to-come-to-a-standstill-on-thursday-as-90-of-trains-and-20-of-flights-cancelled-in
Politico, 11/12/2019: Never mind the strikes, here’s the French pension reform https://www.politico.eu/article/never-mind-the-strikes-heres-the-french-pension-reform-strikes-edouard-philippe-emmanuel-macron/
Deutsche Welle, 11/12/2019: France unveils controversial pension reforms https://www.dw.com/en/france-unveils-controversial-pension-reforms/a-51617322
Euronews, 16/12/2019: French strikes latest: Unions call for protests in fight against pension reforms https://www.euronews.com/2019/12/16/french-strikes-latest-unions-call-for-protests-in-fight-against-pension-reforms
Politico, 16/12/2019: France’s pension reform chief steps down over conflicts of interest https://www.politico.eu/article/frances-pension-reform-chief-steps-down-over-conflicts-of-interest/
The Local (France), 17/12/2019: French strikes: Flights, trains, Metro and buses cancelled on Tuesday's 'day of protest' https://www.thelocal.fr/20191217/france-strikes-flights-trains-and-buses-cancelled-as-another-day-of-protest-planned
Euractiv, 17/12/2019: France: Mr ‘pension reform’ resigns https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/short_news/france-mr-pension-reform-resigns/
Reuters, 17/12/2019: French unions refuse Christmas truce in pensions protests https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-pensions-protests/french-unions-fail-to-gain-new-momentum-in-pension-protests-idUSKBN1YL0KN
Euronews, 18/12/2019: France's Macron will not abandon controversial pension reforms but is open to compromise https://www.euronews.com/2019/12/18/france-s-macron-will-not-abandon-controversial-pension-reforms-but-is-open-to-talks-with-u
France 24, 19/12/2019: French unions to stage new strikes and protests in January over pension reform https://www.france24.com/en/20191219-french-unions-to-stage-new-strikes-and-protests-on-january-over-pension-reform
Euronews, 20/12/2019: French strikes set to continue as government and unions fail to break deadlock https://www.euronews.com/2019/12/19/major-disruption-as-french-strikes-over-pension-reform-enter-third-week

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