In France, more than one million people protested against pension reform

A reform of France’s pension system raising the retirement age from 62 to 64, has led to a second round of coordinated strikes. On Tuesday, a record number of people, 1,27 million, took it to the streets across France to protest against the reform.

French trade unions also took part in the strike, disrupting schools, public transport and the energy sector. Teachers’ union claims that around half of the teachers in nursery and primary schools went on strike. In an effort to halt the government’s plans to raise the standard retirement age, the unions have issued a joint call for two further days of strikes and protests next week, on February 7 and February 11, reports DW.

Despite ongoing demonstrations and polls showing the majority of the French oppose the reform, president Macron is moving ahead on it, saying it is necessary to restore economic balance. The changes are “essential when we compare ourselves to the rest of Europe”, the president said, noting they have to be made to “save” the country’s state pensions system. While in France the legal retirement age is currently 62 years old, in most European countries, the standard retirement age is 65-67 years old, many countries increasing their retirement age in recent years to address ageing populations and sustainable pension systems.

Delaying the retirement by two years, would increase the yearly pension contributions by €17.7 billion and as per estimates from the labor ministry the system would thus be able to break even by 2027. However, trade unions and left-wing parties are arguing that there are other ways to achieve financial parity, such as taxing the super-rich or increase employer and pensioner contributions.