French Senate approves increment of retirement age from 62 to 64 amid nationwide protests

​The French senate has voted to approve the controversial pension reform that has torn the country apart in the past week. After several hours of debate, the senate adopted Macron’s unpopular pension reform on Saturday night. 

195 senators voted in support of the pension reform, while a minority of 112 senators voted against the bill. 

“After a hundred hours of debate, the Senate adopted the text of the pension reform. A decisive step to bring about a reform that will ensure the future of our pensions. Totally committed to allow a final adoption in the next few days,” Prime minister Elisabeth Borne wrote on Twitter while sharing a picture of the vote outcome. 

The French Senate President, Gerard Larcher, said the senate spend about ten days discussing pension reform and other issues. 

“We have reached the end of this very dense debate in which everyone has spoken. Since Thursday, March 2, we have sat continuously for ten days and almost as many nights for a total of more than 100 hours of debate,” Gérard Larcher announced. “We have registered a record number of amendments and sub-amendments: 8,900 in total.”

Macron’s controversial pension reform will raise the country’s retirement age from 62 to 64.

Although the senate has approved the text, it will not become law until the parliament’s joint committee approves it. On Wednesday, the house of deputies would vote on the text, and if it is approved, it would be validated on Thursday by both the Senate and the National Assembly. 

Workers are protesting, the government is not listening

Since the proposed reform, workers have been protesting against the two additional years they would work before getting a full pension. Before Saturday’s vote, hundreds of thousands marched in protest across the country. It had been estimated that more than a million people would hit the streets in protest, which means the crowd that greeted the streets were significantly lesser than expected. 

The more than a week-long protest has disrupted public transport, electricity supply, ports, and other sectors of the French economy. 

“I’m here to fight for my colleagues and for our young people,” Claude Jeanvoine, 63, a retired train driver demonstrating in Strasbourg, in eastern France told AFP news agency. “People shouldn’t let the government get away with this, this is about the future of their children and grandchildren.”

The workers’ union, last week, called for an urgent meeting with President Macron to convince him of the need to change his mind regarding the very unpopular reform. However, the president ignored the calls, a move that the unions consider disrespectful. 

Philippe Martinez, the head of the CGT union, said Macron’s snub made the unions “very angry” and called for a referendum on the pension reform. 

Philippe Martinez said: “When there are millions of people in the streets when there are strikes and all we get from the other side is silence, people wonder: What more do we need to do to be heard?”

While it is very little the unions can do at this point to overturn Macron’s unpopular reform, they are hoping that the other arm of the National Assembly would not follow the steps of the Senate.


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