"Mobilization" also in the ranks of power: in the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron called on the government "to explain to the French very concretely" what "will change for them. And to defend an "indispensable and vital" reform , according to his comments reported by spokesperson Olivier Véran.
After three months of procrastination and consultation, the government confirmed on Tuesday the expected increase in the legal retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030.
Less than the 65 years promised by Emmanuel Macron before his re-election. But enough to "guarantee the balance" of the budget at the end of the decade, while financing "measures of justice", assured Elisabeth Borne.
The Prime Minister defended "advances" on the employment of seniors, "long careers" and the consideration of hardship. But above all a revaluation of small pensions, soon to be increased to 1.200 euros gross (before CSG) per month for a full career.
The measure will affect not only future retirees, but also nearly two million current retirees. Enough to satisfy the right, key to adopting the reform in Parliament.
But the LR group in the Assembly has a "red line" on "long careers". It requires that a person who begins to contribute at age 20 "be able to leave when they have reached all of their annuities (43 years from 2027, editor's note), that is to say not at 64, but at 63 years", underlined Wednesday on RFI its spokesman, Pierre-Henri Dumont.
On the employers' side, it is a general satisfaction: the Medef welcomed "pragmatic and responsible decisions". While reaffirming its lack of enthusiasm for the index measuring the employment of seniors in companies with more than 300 employees, accompanied by a financial penalty in the event of refusal to publish.
Remaining on a position of critical support from the government, François Bayrou deemed the project "improvable", reiterating his proposal to include an increase in employer contributions. A hypothesis rejected by the authorities: if it has provided for an "additional contribution" from employers, it will be fully offset by the reduction in their contribution to the "work accidents" plan, a surplus branch of the Secu.
The reception is, unsurprisingly, much more hostile on the side of the unions, which have called for "a first day of strikes and demonstrations" on January 19. Appeal well received by civil service and energy organisations, which have already relayed it to their base.
This first date is supposed to "give the start of a powerful mobilization over time", wished the leader of the CFDT, Laurent Berger, who denounced a project built "on the backs of the workers alone". The latter called for signing "massively" a petition put online Wednesday by the inter-union to say "no to this unjust and brutal reform".
All the left-wing parties also rallied on this first day, including the Insoumis, which are also planning a "march for pensions" on January 21 in Paris.
"Bitter Pill Surrounded by Honey"
The compensation measures of the reform seem to them very insufficient in the face of a "serious social regression", in the words of the leader LFI, Jean-Luc Mélenchon. "It is not because you had a bitter pill surrounded by honey that the spoon is pleasant", summed up the leader of the PS deputies in the Assembly, Boris Vallaud.
The confrontation will therefore begin just before the presentation of the bill in the Council of Ministers, on January 23. The government has chosen – a rare occurrence – to go through an amending budget for Social Security, thus imposing a forced review of the text with a view to final adoption at the end of March, while allowing itself the possibility of resorting to 49.3 in case of blocking in the Assembly.
Can the entry into action of the unions make the executive bend? The government "does not project itself into the idea of a massive mobilization", risked its spokesperson, Olivier Véran, during the report of the Council of Ministers. He had said a little earlier: "We want to go all the way".