Amidst nationwide strikes over a proposed pension reform that have been going on for more than a month, the French government offered a major compromise with workers unions.
The country’s PM, Édouard Philippe, wrote to union leaders on 11 January, saying he would “provisionally” withdraw plans to increase workers’ retirement age of 64, two years more the official retirement age.
“I am willing to withdraw from the bill the short-term measure I had proposed”, Philippe said. The country’s president Emmanuel Macron called the move “a constructive and responsible compromise”. Philippe added that the concept of an “age of equilibrium” would remain part of the reforms.
Philippe’s offer, however, only extends to those retiring in the next seven years, which means the “pivot age” system could still be implemented for people retiring after 2027. The opposition and the unions demand the complete withdrawal of the reform law.
“No one knows whether the pivot age is actually withdrawn or not and whether its suspension concerns only the period 2022-2027. The Prime Minister’s letter seems to indicate that the pivot age will apply after that date. This point is essential because it can fuel controversies, oppositions and mobilisations,” an expert said.
It is yet unknown if the compromise will end the strikes, as unions have further demonstrations scheduled for the following days, despite the announcement.