Franceâs Constitutional Council on Friday approved an unpopular plan toÂ raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, in a victory for President Emmanuel Macron after three months of mass protests over the legislation that have damaged his leadership.
The move threatened to enrage unions and other critics of the pension plan, including protesters gathered in spots around France on Friday evening as the decision came down. Macronâs political opponents vowed to maintain pressure on the government to withdraw the bill.
The council rejected some other measures in the pension bill, but the higher age was central to Macronâs plan and the target of protestersâ anger.
Macron can enact the bill within 15 days.
In a separate but related decision, the council rejected a request by left-wing lawmakers to allow for a possible referendum on enshrining 62 as the maximum official retirement age. The council will rule on a similar request next month.
Security forces stood behind a metal fence erected in front of theÂ heavily guarded Constitutional Council.
As tensions mounted hours before the decision, Macron invited labor unions to meet with him on Tuesday âwhatever the decision by the Constitutional Council,â his office said. The president did not grant a request last month by unions for a meeting. Unions have been the organizers of 12 nationwide protests since January and have a criticial role in trying to tamp down excessive reactions by protesters.
âThe doors of the Elysee (presidential palace) will remain open, without condition, for this dialogue,â Macronâs office said. There was no immediate response from unions to the invitation.
The plan to increase the retirement age was meant to be Macronâs showcase measure in his second term.
The council decision caps months of tumultuous debates in parliament and fervor in the streets.
Spontaneous demonstrations were held around France ahead of the nine-member councilâs ruling. Opponents of the pension reform blockaded entry points into some cities, including Rouen in the west or Marseille in the south, slowing or stopping traffic.
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne was interrupted while visiting a supermarket outside Paris by a group of people chanting âWe donât want it,â referring to the way she skirted the vote by lawmakers to advance the pension reform.
Protests continue in Paris over pension reforms
Thousands returned to the streets of Paris to once again protest President Emmanuel Macronâs plan to raise the retirement age.
The governmentâs decision to get around a parliamentary vote in March by using special constitutional powers heightened the fury of the measureâs opponents, as well as their determination. Another group awaited Borne in the parking lot.
âWeâre in a democracy, so everyone can express themselves,â the prime minister told news station BFM TV. âMy priority is to bring calmâ and to address concrete concerns, she said. She went into the store to discuss anti-inflation measures.
The presidentâs drive to increase the retirement age has provoked months of labor strikes and protests. Violence by pockets of ultra-left radicals marked the 12 otherwise peacefulÂ nationwide marchesÂ that unions organized since January.
Union leaders have said the bodyâs decisions would be respected. However, eight unions sent a âcommon declarationâ to the Constitutional Council spelling out their position.
The leftist CGT union said Friday it had filed âmore precise observationsâ with the council. The union said the âthe government hijacked parliamentary procedureâ by wrapping the pension reform plan into a bill to finance social security, thus allowing it to push the measure through without a vote.
âThe Constitutional Council can only censure this brutal and unjustified reform,â the union said in a statement.
Unions have vowed to continue protest actions in an attempt to get Macron to simply withdraw the measure.
âAs long as this reform isnât withdrawn, the mobilization will continue in one form or another,â Sophie Binet, the CGT chief said Thursday.
The leader of the moderate CFDT, Laurent Berger, warned that âthere will be repercussionsâ if the Constitutional Council gives the French government a green light.
Polls have consistently shown that the majority of French citizens are opposed to working two more years before being able to reap pension benefits.
Holding out hope to upend the decision, unions and some protesters recall parallels with a contested 2006 measure about work contracts for youth that sent students, joined by unions, into the streets. That legislation had been pushed through parliament without a vote and given the green light by the Constitutional Council â only to be later scrapped to bring calm to the country.
The post France’s Constitutional Council approves higher pension age appeared first on New York Post.