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The Debate

Strikes for Christmas? French unions dig in against Macron pension reform

FR24
FR24 FR24

In France, it's Day 13 of a movement that's set to last if neither the government nor the unions blink. The big march in Paris had those unions united against the government's pension reform plan. Is this the biggest test of Emmanuel Macron's presidency? Has the president, who was able to outlast the Yellow Vests while passing labour reform, rail reform and unemployment insurance reform, overreached this time?

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It's not just transport strikes. Teachers and hospital workers are also out in numbers. The anxiety is not just over whether families will be united over the holidays. It's also over whether France's cherished welfare state is accelerating its steady erosion. All sides agree reform is needed, what with an ageing population and too many disparate pension schemes. But is the reform fair?

Emmanuel Macron has vowed to speak when the time is right. He has just lost the architect of the reform, done in by an ethics scandal. When the chips fall, will the French president have to scrap the reform, water it down or go full steam ahead?

Produced by Alessandro Xenos, Juliette Laurain and Ariana Mozafari.

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