PARIS- France’s prime minister insisted Sunday the government’s plan to raise the retirement age is “no longer negotiable,” further infuriating parliamentary opponents and unions who are planning mass protests and disruptive strikes this week.
One of the flagship measures of President Emmanuel Macron’s second term is raising the pension age. In the past month, more than 1 million people marched against the bill and there is widespread misinformation about what it will mean for French workers today.
During an interview with France-Info radio broadcast Sunday, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said the age “is no longer negotiable.”
“In light of employers’ organizations and unions’ concerns, we proposed retirement at 64 and a lengthening of the year’s workers must earn a full pension,” she said.
In response to Borne’s comments, an online petition led by the union saw an increase in signatures. France’s eight leading unions are preparing a joint response to her remarks, according to officials with the FO and CFDT.
During upcoming strikes and protests, French lawmaker Manuel Bompard, whose France Unbowed party is leading the opposition to the reform, called for “the biggest turnout possible.”
“We have to be in the streets Tuesday,” he said on BFM television Sunday.
Since France’s life expectancy has grown and birth rates have declined, the government says the reform is necessary to keep the pension system solvent.
“Our aim is to ensure that in 2030 we have a system that’s financially balanced,” Borne said.
In order to balance the pension budget, unions and left-wing parties are calling on big businesses or wealthy households to do more.
Borne suggested being open to adjusting how the reform addresses the time people take off work for children or education. Critics of the plan say women are unfairly targeted; Borne disagreed, but said, “We are analyzing the situation.”
A parliamentary commission will discuss the bill on Monday, and the National Assembly will debate it on Feb. 6. 7,000 amendments have been submitted by opponents.