French parliament debates on pension reforms as third nationwide strike looms

Debates in the French parliament began on Monday (Feb 06) on President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed pension reform as the government defends its project, Reuters reported. The European country is about to face its third nationwide strike on Tuesday (Feb 07) since the reforms were introduced last month which will raise the pension age by two years to 64. 

On Monday as Labour Minister Olivier Dussopt’s opened his remarks, opposition MPs began shouting intending to interrupt. Dussopt said, “I know this reform is difficult but I know that undertaking it is showing the courage others have lacked.” 

“All the tricks, … all the lies will not suffice to counter a simple and unequivocal observation: our (pensions) system suffers from a structural deficit.”

Parliament president Yael Braun-Oivet urged to maintain silence. 

Left-wing MP Clementine Autain told reporters, “I think that the French are right to protest and I call on them to demonstrate on Tuesday the 7th, tomorrow, and next Saturday, because it is the only to counter the government.”

Civil aviation authorities on Sunday said that French train and air services are expected to be heavily disrupted by these nationwide strikes on Tuesday (Feb 07). 

Ever since the pension reforms have been announced, over 1.2 million people have participated in the protests during the last strike on Jan 31. 

Thousands of teachers, and railway workers have been protesting opposing the decision and demanding a raise in revenue. Unions said that there are two ways to increase the revenue such as taxing the super-rich or can ask employers or well-off pensioners to contribute more.

According to Labour Ministry, the pension system reforms would yield almost $19.18 billion in annual pension contributions.

(with inputs from agencies)