Brussels (Brussels Morning) In a televised speech on Monday, France’s President Emmanuel Macron announced that his controversial pension reform plan will go forward, having been put on the backburner since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
For Macron, reform of the “unfair” pension system has been a key campaign issue, one which he believes struck a chord with the business-orientated section of the electorate. However, it also aroused fierce opposition among the unions.
When initially proposed, just weeks before the coronavirus pandemic shut down France, Macron’s reform plans sparked waves of protests and transport union strikes. Soon after the introduction of a nation-wide pandemic lockdown, the reform plans were put on hold.
In making his case for the proposed reform, Macron argued that the system needed to aim for greater simplicity and fairness. This meant people would have to work longer and start their retirement later. He also announced that special pension regimes, such as those currently in place for highly unionised industries like the public transport and energy sectors, would no longer apply or be available for new hires.
According to sources contacted by Reuters, one of the reform plans is to move the retirement age by two years, up to 64, something the government avoided in its previous proposal. On the positive side for current and future pensioners, Macron reportedly also aims to raise the minimum pension to at least 1,000 euro per month. Currently, many former agricultural workers can expect significantly less, with many barely making ends meet on monthly pensions of between 300 and 400 euros.
The government plans to enter consultations with workers, unions and employers in September, in a bid to iron out the details in an effort to make the reform acceptable to all. Macron also emphasised that implementation of the reform would be held off until the current coronavirus pandemic is fully under control, and economic recovery can be guaranteed.she i