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The Debate

Full steam ahead: Macron unveils pension reform, shrugs off strikes

THE DEBATE
THE DEBATE FRANCE 24

Emmanuel Macron may have outlasted the Yellow Vest movement. Now he has got the unions against him. The French government's formal rollout of its pension reform plan has prompted a rolling over of strikes - already in their seventh day - and triggering calls for massive demonstrations next Tuesday. Has Macron, who stormed to power in 2017 by bringing together reformers from the left and the right, finally chosen his camp? 

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The French president, who recently argued the point with Whirpool factory workers in his native city of Amiens, has prepared the country for the privatisation of rail, loosened labour law and hardened rules on benefits for the unemployed. Is he a reformer and a moderniser, or simply taking the axe to France's beloved welfare state?

Pension reform, which comes halfway through his five-year mandate, will be the acid test. It would raise the age for full retirement benefits to 64 and unite France's 42 different pension schemeunder a single points plan. Is it the needed remedy for a nation with an ageing population and a system that all agree is currently unsustainable? Or the beginning of the end of France as we know it?

Produced by Alessandro Xenos, Juliette Laurain and Jimena Morales-Velasco.

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