French unions protest government’s decision to push through pension reform

French unions protest government's decision to push through pension reform
Photo: AFP
Unions took to the streets in several French cities on Tuesday to protest the government's choice to adopt the pension reform bill without a vote in Parliament.

French unions marched on Tuesday to protest the government’s use of Article 49.3 to force through the much-debated pension reform without a vote in Parliament, after opposition MPs deliberately and severely delayed hearings of the reform with thousands of amendments.

But despite union calls for action, public transport ran as normal on March 3rd.

Neither the national rail company SNCF nor Paris transport operator RATP, which bore the brunt of the strikes in December, announced any disruption to services.

Unions CGT, FO CFE-CGC and FSU all participated in the protest march in Paris that left République at 1.30 pm towards Madeleine, further west. 

 

The country's largest union CFDT had did not join the march. Nor did UNSA, the largest union representing the Metro workers.

Photo: Google Maps

During Tuesday's protest in Marseille, hardline union CGT said it would join FO in leaving ongoing consultations with the government for how to finance the reform.

“The government is refusing all debate and keeps saying that it alone has the right answer,” CGT leader Philippe Martinez said.

CGT-leader Philippe Martinez was protesting in Marseille, southern France, on Tuesday March 3rd. Photo: AFP

Another gathering in front of the Assemblée Nationale (Parliament) was called for at 5pm, before MPs were scheduled to debate the government's move at 5.30pm.

Two opposition groups of MPs have put forward a motion of censure each to counter the government’s deployment of the constitutional article known as 49.3, which allows any French government to unilaterally pass any bill relating to financial or social security issues without consulting parliament.

The only way to stop the government's deployment of article 49.3 would be to pass one of the motions of censure through Parliament with an absolute majority – a highly unlikely scenario considering the government's majority.

READ ALSO: Why has the French government used Article 49.3 and does it mean more strikes?

On Monday evening protesters gathered in Paris and some other French cities, chanting slogans that they would not surrender. 

 

 

However the capital's protests on Monday gathered only hundreds of people, compared to the thousands that rallied against the reform in the movement's early days.

The number of people showing up to the strikes has dwindled since its peak period of mid-December and organised 'protest days' in late January resulted in no significant disruption to rail or public transport services. 

EXPLAINED What are France's special pensions regimes and why are people striking to protect them?


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