STUMP » Articles » French Pension Protests: Final Form of Pension Reform and Continuing Protests » 1 February 2020, 14:01

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

French Pension Protests: Final Form of Pension Reform and Continuing Protests  


1 February 2020, 14:01

Well, supposedly.

I guess all the docile French just fall in line because, ya know, process.

About that “falling in line”….

Firefighters and police battle EACH OTHER on the streets of Paris: Astonishing scenes as riot cops clash with their emergency worker colleagues who are demanding better pensions

Baton-wielding police officers clashed with firefighters in violence scenes on the streets of Paris today [28 Jan 2020]

Firemen were in the French capital to protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s planned pension reforms

‘The police responded with tear gas, then went in with batons. The fighting got very ugly,’ said an eye witness

You can read the link to see what happened. (I will have additional links at the bottom of the post).


Of course, once legislation people detest is passed, that’s when Americans start their protests (see Virginia and the long, slow dismantlement of Obamacare).

French unions try to keep pension protest alive as deadline looms

Hardline French unions on Wednesday [January 22] kept up a series of wildcat strikes aimed at ratcheting up pressure on the government before it presents the final version of a pension reform that has prompted France’s biggest labour protest in decades.

The government will unveil the revised pensions overhaul at a cabinet meeting Friday [Jan 24] before submitting the draft law to parliament for debate set to begin on February 17 [three weeks later].

“It’s going to be Friday or never,” Philippe Martinez of the hardline CGT union told BFM television on Friday.

Union leaders launched a crippling train and metro strike against the reforms last month, but those disruptions have largely ended after officials dropped plans — temporarily at least — to extend the age for a full pension to 64 from 62.

I put in the “helpful” markers of the timing.

My assumption was that if the reform bill package was not to the unions’ liking… they would go back to striking and protesting. And they did.

Why would they stop? Would they no longer be pissed off?

I guess this is one of the reasons the U.S. has had only one big constitutional crisis (the U.S. Civil War), and France is on its 5th republic (or is it 6th now?)

It is amusing how French “leadership” never learn the lesson. I guess having to get buy-in from the electorate never was a consideration… and that when it didn’t work, they’d have to give up their plans.


So this is what was decided on January 24.

French Cabinet passes controversial pension reform that prompted strikes

The Cabinet of French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday passed the controversial pension reform that has been at the center of seven weeks of mass protests that have paralyzed parts of the country.The new rules would take 40 different pension schemes and bring them under one umbrella, and raise the retirement age for the affected workers, many of them in the transportation sector, from 62 to 64.

A government spokeswoman said that the reform would create a “durable, solid” system that “provides for equitable intergenerational justice, protects the most vulnerable, restores trust and restores value to work.”

France, like many countries in the developed world, is dealing with how to fund its relatively generous pension schemes amidst declining birth rates and fewer young workers. The new system, the government says, would reduce billions in deficits in pension funds.

Meeting scheduled with labor leaders

The government is due to meet with labor leaders on January 30 to discuss alternative ways to fund the pension system. If there is no agreement, Macron’s administration has said it will raise the retirement age to 64 by decree.

Okay, so.

First off, it’s a bit late in the process to be talking to interested parties. That’s where it should have started.

Second, raise the retirement age to 64? I think they mean the minimum age you’re allowed to take benefits. In France, that is 62.

Just like the U.S. [That is, you can start taking Social Security old age benefits starting at age 62. Yes, they are reduced a lot from what you would get at full retirement age, which is going to 67.]

Something to think about.


I’m not sure this is really face-saving, but it does give an excuse to delay passing legislation.

Legal blow to French pension reform plans

Country’s highest administrative court warns government that it has not had time to study legislation properly and it ‘guarantee the legal security’ of controversial changes to the pension system

President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial pension reform plans that have prompted weeks of strikes and protests have been dealt a blow by the country’s highest administrative court.

The Conseil d’Etat said that the financial forecasts underpinning the bills were questionable and warned that it could not “guarantee the best possible legal security” of the documents that were approved by the Council of Ministers on Friday.

It said that it had not had enough time to consider the proposed legislation. “This situation is especially regrettable because the bills lead to a reform of the pension system that is unprecedented since 1945 and aims to transform for decades to come a system that is a major component of the social contract,” the council said.

It said it had already warned the government that its study of the bills’ financial impact were ‘insufficient’, and said that an updated study submitted by the government on January 15 was ‘still incomplete’.

That’s the problem with sweeping changes — you actually need to work on the policy.

I mean, you would have thought the disaster that was Obamacare would have taught policymakers something.

So, they’re trying to ram through something that many of the electorate don’t understand (and those that are protest do understand well enough to know their benefits would take a huge cut), and they haven’t even done a full analysis on it.

This gives legislators an excuse not to pass it, that’s for sure.


This runs from before the January 24 announcement to today [1 Feb 2020].

I have linked to the last piece, by Elizabeth Bauer (aka Jane to Actuary) before.

But the question does become: given electoral realities, can any of these systems be reformed without getting voted out?


Uh, the Haka is Maori. Is there a France/New Zealand connection I was unaware of?

It’s not really considered newsworthy in the U.S., either.

The top news stories on my google news dashboard are: impeachment, Coronavirus, and Democratic primary race. The “For You” section is a bunch of Star Wars/MCU crap. And google knows I have three pension-related news alerts set up. But doesn’t serve up the pension stories on my first page.


No, it’s not really newsworthy outside of France, to a general audience. It’s big news to me, because I am interested in retirement and pension issues everywhere.

It doesn’t really matter if a bunch of people in the UK or the U.S. are interested in the French protests (some are, most aren’t). It does matter if the French leadership will do anything about this.

I agree with the first person, though. Even if there were no EU, this would likely be going on. France has not followed EU fiscal “requirements”… ever, as far as I can make out. It’s not the EU really driving any of this, with respect to France.

It definitely has to do with the insane early retirement age in France, and its aging like all the other developed nations.

Prior blog posts on French pension reform:

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