The protests of france leave Macron in pension reform gridlock.

The protests of france leave Macron in pension reform gridlock.

The stalemate between Emmanuel Macron’s government and labour unions deepened as France led into a third week of transportation strikes over the president’s effort to reform the country’s pension system, threatening further turmoil during the busy holiday season.

Negotiations between the unions and the government have been suspended. Complicating matters, Macron’s point man for pension reform resigned on Monday after it was disclosed he failed to report multiple side jobs, which is forbidden by French law. The present divide demonstrates the French are married to their own retirement system while Macron has barreled through reforms of tax and labour laws.

Reforming it’s the crown jewel of Macron’s effort to modernize the nation by merging 42 different retirement regimes and offering incentives to push back the era when workers retire to 64 from 62 in 2027.

This compares with the initial march on Dec. 5, which brought over 800,000 people, the largest turnout since Macron took office in May 2017. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told parliament Tuesday that he was determined to push through the reforms.

‘The objective is extremely simple, to ensure the accounts will be balanced in 2027,’ Philippe said. ‘If our social partners produce a better proposal that ensures equilibrium by then, we’ll take it.’

The prime minister has encouraged labor unions and employer organizations for talks on Wednesday, followed by a joint meeting on Thursday, Agence France-Presse reported. CGT mind Philippe Martinez said at the beginning of Tuesday’s march the union would meet in the coming days to decide whether to halt the strikes over the Christmas period.

Macron’s government has said it could agree to roll back some elements of this program but it promised to keep the job that would end the special standing of many public service employees, from subway drivers to Paris Opera dancers, and ensure that pension payments don’t place a burden on the state budget.

CFDT head Laurent Berger said at the beginning of the march that his union was ready to continue strikes in the new year when the authorities did not listen to its demand to scrap plans to raise the full retirement age to 64. He reiterated that he supports a universal pension system. ‘If we are not heard, we will be back again in January,’ Berger said.” I hope the government will hear , and in that case we will resume discussions.’

Team Macron Ready to Ride Out Whatever French Unions Twist at It

In an interview published Tuesday in La Croix newspaper, Berger said one option may be to increase contributions as opposed to raising the retirement age, a solution not favored by the government. ‘Raising contributions means less spending power for workers or more charges for companies; it would kill the economy,’ Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin said in an interview with LCI television Tuesday.

Berger said his union would resume talks with the government on Wednesday, warning the prime minister that a reform that puts’budget priorities ‘ would face resistance.

Festive Truce?

The strikes, which began on Dec. 5, are creating havoc for employees commuting on public transportation — largely in and around Paris — and contributing to hundreds of miles of traffic jams around the city. They could eventually weigh on the market as people attempt to complete their holiday shopping and prepare travel plans.

The government has called for a truce over the Christmas period. Berger agreed, saying blocking people during the festivities are’bad for our picture’ Complicating things for Macron, Jean-Paul Delevoye, his pension chief, resigned on Monday after after he failed to declare multiple paid and unpaid positions in organizations such as think-tanks and trade groups. The French presidency said he would soon be replaced.

French Morale

Public opinion in France is split.

And that’s while 54% of people either support the strikes or are sympathetic to them, according to an Ifop poll published on Sunday. The French also support some elements of these reforms, the Ifop poll showed. About two-thirds agree with phasing out the retirement programs, while only 37% support pushing back the age for retirement with full pension to 64.

Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau played down the impact that the strikes could have on the economy, saying in an interview with French daily Le Figaro that’our experience is that in the end these movements don’t weigh much on economic development .’

France’s Insee statistics agency concurred, saying the protests could have a limited effect on economic growth, especially if unions suspend their actions during the holiday season. Nevertheless the strikes are fraying the nerves of commuters needing to squeeze to the few trains and buses still running or sitting in miles of traffic jams.

‘The time has come to discover a way out because the consequences are serious,’ French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire stated on RMC radio on Monday. ‘This conflict is weighing on the morale of the French individuals.’

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