France prepares for more protests as pension talks fail

06 Apr 2023

France is preparing for another day of strikes and protests on Thursday against President Macron's proposed pension reform.

Labour unions in France are to continue the fight against an increase in the retirement age, as talks with prime minister Elisabeth Borne on Wednesday failed to end the deadlock over the proposed reform. 

"We decided to put an end to this useless meeting...The prime minister has chosen to send us back to the streets," according to the newly elected first woman leader of the CGT union, Sophie Binet. 

The government says raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 for most workers is essential to balance the pension budget in future, Reuters news agency reports. Whereas unions claim the funds can be found elsewhere. 

The PM said she was open to further discussion but wouldn't back down on the retirement age. 

Head of the CFDT trade union, Laurent Berger, has called for workers to join Thursday's planned strikes and protests, stating public opinion wasn't changing, France 24 reports. "We are experiencing a grave democratic crisis," Berger stated. 

Labour representatives have stated that despite weeks of unrest over the reform, they are still not being listened to. 

"We will not come back to the negotiating table as if nothing had happened," said CFTC union president Cyril Chabanier in a post-meeting statement. 

Chabanier added the unions told the prime minister the only way to end the stalemate was for the government to scrap the reform. 

A verdict on the bill is set for 14th April. The Constitutional Council can reject the bill or parts of it should it be considered to breach the constitution, the Reuters report adds.

President Macron, who is currently on a state visit to China, faces the biggest challenge of his second term over the proposed pension overhaul.