Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent
Eight of the biggest French unions called for a “first day of strikes and protests” on 18 January 2023 against pension reforms initiated by the French government.
More than 80,000 protesters took to the streets of Paris. Demonstrations were also held in 200 more French cities. An estimated 20 lakh workers participated in the mass protest.
Under the proposals outlined by the prime minister earlier this month, from 2027 people will have to work until the age of 64, from 62 currently, to qualify for a full state pension. The brunt of the reform will be borne by the low paid workers. These are the workers who tend to start working early in life, so would have, normally, earned the right to a full pension by the age of 62. Now they will have to work two extra years for no added benefit!
The proposed changes by Government in pension are made at a time when workers in France are being squeezed by rising food and energy bills.
A union leader said, “This reform falls at a moment when there is lot of anger, lot of frustration and lot of fatigue. It’s coming at the worst moment when workers’ day-to-day life is wrecked”.
The unions have called for another day of protest actions on 31 January.
The pension is a hard-fought right of workers which capitalist governments all over the world are trying to curtail or withdraw by claiming that they cannot afford its burden. However, they have enough money to give out tax concessions and incentives to capitalists!
In India, too, the government gave a big blow to the pension right of government workers by introducing the New Pension Scheme (NPS) on 1 January 2004, by giving the same argument that it cannot afford the increasing burden of the pension. Presently lakhs of workers of the country are on roads demanding scrapping of the NPS and restoration of the old pension system which guaranteed a minimum and known pension amount on retirement. Their protests have already forced a few state governments to restore the old pension system.