With fewer but still determined demonstrators, the unions mobilized for the fifth time on Thursday against the pension reform project, wishing to maintain pressure on deputies who no longer have much hope of being able to debate the legal age. before Friday midnight.
They are not yet on the job market and yet the students demonstrate alongside the workers against the pension reform.
The fifth day of demonstration against the pension reform, Thursday, February 16, brought together 440,000 people in the street, according to the Ministry of the Interior. A figure in sharp decline compared to the first four days of the movement, which had gathered between 757,000 and 1.3 million demonstrators, still according to the Ministry of the Interior. For its part, the CGT counted 1.3 million demonstrators in France, the weakest mobilization since the start of the social movement on January 19.
Renewable strikes to “move to a higher stage”
“February 16 is a step, a final warning for the government, sums up Dominique Corona, deputy secretary general of Unsa. We were responsible enough, and we still are, but the government must hear that it gotta get the job back on the job.” Otherwise, the inter-union intends to “put France to a halt” on March 7. That day, “we block everything, everything must stop everywhere”, supported Jean-Luc Mélenchon, founder of La France insoumise, in the procession of Montpellier, Thursday. “The objective is to really have a country at a standstill, with a maximum of people who are not going to work (…) in all sectors. We want to have the whole population with us, the traders who are pulling the curtain even for an hour or two”, explains Cyril Chabanier.
Limited transport disruptions
The leaders of the eight main French unions had decided to demonstrate in Albi to “shining the spotlight” on this France of very mobilized medium-sized cities, according to the secretary general of the CFDT, Laurent Berger.
“The discontent, the determination and the combativeness are intact”, he assured before the start of the demonstration, which brought together 10,000 people according to the prefecture and 50,000 according to the unions – as much as the number of inhabitants of this city. . “Elected officials cannot be indifferent when there are so many people in the street,” said his CGT counterpart, Philippe Martinez.
Other actions are already planned for the next day, International Women’s Day. And while some high schools are blocked and university sites closed, the main youth organizations have also announced a day of mobilization on March 9. What give desires of renewable strikes. The RATP unions have already called for it, as well as the CGT garbage collectors, from March 7. If this is not the case for the inter-union for the moment, certain confederations like Solidaires are in favor of it.
Until then, Philippe Martinez promises “other initiatives”, for “that the mobilization continues to be expressed, including during a period of school holidays”.
“The social contract is shaken”
“Workers feel wronged by a system that has not kept its promises, analyzes Hugo Touzet. If we look at the distribution of the wealth produced since 1980, we see that the share taken by capital income, that is to say shareholders, increases more and more to the detriment of income from work, that is to say wages, and this, while productivity has increased and social rights are declining. of the Second World War between the state, the workers and the employers is shaken.”
In the demonstrations, many young people are alongside the workers to protest against the reform.
“It will affect students and especially the most precarious people. And for a woman, it is really important to mobilize on this reform which will make all women more precarious”.
Especially since entering the labor market is more and more complicated for young people, as for a woman… However, finding a stable job that corresponds to our level of qualification is around 27 years old.
Focused on full employment, the No. 1 objective of his second term, Emmanuel Macron thus seems to be going against the tide of the aspirations of a large part of the population.
Because this aspiration for work that makes sense and leaves room for other aspects of life is further reinforced by the awareness of climate change. Faced with the imminence of a major upheaval, “working more to earn – and produce – more” thus seems increasingly anachronistic to many demonstrators.
The departments fear an explosion of the RSA
The departments voted against the pension bill during the council of the National Solidarity Fund for Autonomy (CNSA).
Indeed, if the postponement of the legal retirement age makes it possible to make savings on public finances, it should induce a parallel increase in other social expenditure, in particular RSA.
This is why the representatives of the departments – left and right – voted against the PLFRSS for 2023 during the CNSA council meeting on February 3, 2023.
The DREEs counts 1.4 million people aged 53 to 69 who receive neither income from work nor a retirement pension.
They regretted “the brutality and social injustice” of this reform which will “bring the balance of the scheme to people who are close to retirement, that is to say senior employees, 40% of whom are not no longer employed”.
The departments are convinced that the reform of pensions but also that of unemployment insurance “will have social impacts; in particular on the evolution of the number of RSA recipients over 50 whose prospects of returning to work remain slim since these policies of social deprivation are not accompanied by a reform of the employment of seniors and insufficient provisions in terms of arduous work”.
According to a study by DREES in October 2016, the 2010 reform resulted in between 125,000 and 150,000 additional beneficiaries of a disability pension between the ages of 60 and 62, and around 80,000 additional recipients of one of the three main social minima, including the RSA.
Concerning the current reform of Elisabeth Borne, the forecasts are more optimistic. The DREES estimates that the effect on the RSA will be “generally quite weak”. In a note addressed to the Pensions Orientation Council, it estimates it at around 150 million euros for a passage from 62 to 64 years, or 30,000 additional recipients per year. She stresses that for this reform the consequences will be “focused on people aged 62 and 63”.
The DREES justifies its estimate by the absence of a very significant decrease in the number of RSA beneficiaries around the age of opening of pension rights. “RSA beneficiaries often have incomplete careers and therefore they are already retiring later around age 67, the threshold for obtaining the full rate”.
And he adds that some may be recognized as unfit for work and therefore will not be affected in this case by the shift in the legal age. “Among all the retirees of the 1950 generation, 7% of retirees left because of (ex-) invalidity, and 8% left because of unfitness for work”.
But the departments are not out of the woods because the decline in the legal age should also lead to an increase in the unemployment rate between 0.2% and 0.9% over the next 5 years according to macroeconomic modeling built by the French Observatory of Economic Conditions (OFCE). However, with the 25% reduction in the duration of compensation for jobseekers as part of the unemployment insurance reform that came into effect on February 1, 2023, some unemployed people could quickly find themselves on the RSA. “In theory, we expect there to be a little less people unemployed and a little more on the RSA”.
The other possible consequence for the finances of the departments is more distant. It concerns caregivers of dependent elderly people. “It is possible that people who could be caregivers are much less available to help their dependent relative because of the pension reform and therefore seek more personalized autonomy allowance before retirement”. This risk is however “very indirect” for the finances of the departments.
“Far from being just a technical question, the pension reform carries a social project, and the demonstrators have understood this well. By weakening social protection such as unemployment rights or pensions, the government’s strategy is to disengage the State and to individualize what was until then organized by the community. They present this retreat as a necessity. This is what the mobilization is very strong against today.
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