It was a strike supposed to shut down France only for Thursday, but the turn of events and anger amongst people is now looking to stretch it at least until next week. French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been on a spree to introduce new legislations, is now dragging his efforts to derail the past century’s Byzantine pension system and introduce a new plan instead.
At the epitome of his ideas is to make a transitional change in 42 private and public systems, which currently offer French workers some of the world’s most liberal retirement benefits. Emmanuel Macron has thus, declared a full-forced campaign to consolidate them into a single nation system managed by the state.
So, as with most decisions, chaos has been central even to this one. The walkout on Thursday began with transport workers. The decisions saw almost all Metro systems shut down, with only two driverless lines in operation.
The downtrodden decision threating economy’s lifeline later spread out to schools and colleges and saw teachers joining the alliance, who believe the plan threatens their existence after retirement. Even the Eiffel Tower shut down its gleaming lights that are a beacon in the night horizon of Paris.
However, little did it impact Macron, who will meet ministers involved in his pension reform on Sunday. The meetup is highly likely to discuss the changes, expected to be introduced on Tuesday.
What Next for France?
As for the next big thing before official announcement on new pension system, the unions are calling for another wave of disruption on Tuesday, the day government has said it will unveil the plan. Until now, the nation is running on rumors of what the plan might hold.
As per information disclosed unofficially, France is set to embrace some of the points out of Sweden’s points systems. The plan that would see workers accumulating points throughout their working lives, which they can use in at some still unknown period of time.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimated that France spends at least 14 per cent of its GDP on pensions each year, the numbers that are almost double compared to the US. “New measures to raise the effective age of labor market exit will be needed,” the OECD reported perfunctorily in April.
Now, that Emmanuel Macron is on road to rationalize the rigorous spending on pension system, along with other reforms that could actually see tax cuts in order to boost GDP, French people have decided to put economy on hold. His reforms that have already seen rise of Yellow Vest movements, are a prime example of what could be the scenarios come Monday and Tuesday.
One crisis after the other, and Macron is facing the wall again. And to top it, the French President is set to host Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in Paris for a landmark summit on Ukraine.
Nonetheless, the major question is, for how long can Emmanuel Macron maintain his grip on the nation, which is dripping away to rage havoc on every possible decision that demands adjustment. On the personal front, the pensions system might be disturbing to a lot of people, but if France’s economic stagnation has to find an answer, it can only be reforms.