On December 17 and beyond: let’s protest until the pension reform is withdrawn!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
December 15, 2019

Working people are unanimously against Macron’s pension reform. So, on December 17, let’s all walk out and demonstrate. We can’t just stand by and watch striking railroad workers, transport workers and teachers challenge the government. We have to take action.

The government has already backed down since the protests began. If private-sector workers joined the fight, the government would soon be forced to back down and withdraw its reform.

The government wants to make us work longer for a lower pension and it has several tricks in its bag to make it happen.

There’s the “pivotal” age of 64. Who can seriously see themselves working until the age of 64, be it in the public or private sector? Who can imagine, at such an age, being able to work shifts and keep up with the rhythm of the assembly line? Who can picture themselves driving a bus, stocking supermarket shelves, lifting an elderly person or teaching in a classroom? And why should we kill ourselves at work while young people are jobless or forced into accepting temporary jobs?

Of course, the government knows that many of us won’t even make it to 64 with a steady job. A lot of workers will be kicked out well before they reach 64. This is as unacceptable as the present situation, where more than half of those over 55 are unemployed or on disability which means that their pensions will automatically be lowered, and significantly so.

The government keeps repeating that “everything is negotiable”, meaning it could very well abandon the pivotal age of 64 and make us work longer by other means. We don’t know exactly how the government intends to impoverish us, but “No!” is the only answer we can possibly give.

We can only refuse the way pensions will be calculated in the new “reformed” system. The wages of one’s entire career would be taken into account instead of the 25 best years (in the private sector) and the last 6 months (in the public sector). It would lower pensions by at least 200 to 300 euros per month. As if pensions were too high!

The government claims its reform will benefit the most vulnerable (especially women) because every hour worked will be accounted for. That’s pure hypocrisy! Nothing is stopping the government from doing that now, by amending the current system. Macron, his government and his party’s MPs say they want to help the poor but their actions show the extent of their contempt. Macron’s government serves the rich and will go down in history as a government that got rid of the tax on wealth, refused to increase minimum wage, completely destroyed a labor legislation which offered workers some protection and increased overall poverty by decreasing housing benefits and unemployment rights for the poorest.

It’s sickening to hear that many ministers and government officials, like Delevoye1, get salaries and pensions totalling thousands of euros and, at the same time, proudly say that their goal is to guarantee a minimum pension of 1,000 euros per month for wage-earners who have worked their whole lives. They can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like living with 1,000 euros a month.

The Prime Minister has dared present this reform which will reduce the pensions of those born after 1975 as a way of reinforcing “solidarity between generations”. Does he imagine that workers who refuse such setbacks for themselves will accept them for the next generation? This is just another despicable attempt at dividing workers.

In fact, the government is giving workers a good example of “lack of solidarity”. It seeks to negotiate separately with each profession and trade, in the hope of getting some union confederations to follow suit. The only way to defeat these political maneuvers is for all of us, public and private-sector workers, to fight hand in hand.

Those who are giving the country a good example of justice and solidarity are the workers who are fighting today for the withdrawal of this reform, whatever their status or age.

The media have extensively covered the government’s “concern” about the upcoming Christmas holidays. They have already accused striking rail and transport workers of “spoiling the party”. But the best Christmas gift we can give our children is to fight for the reform to be withdrawn. It means telling our children that we are fighting to protect their future retirement conditions but also to make sure that they live a better life and to gain respect for all working people.

If we win this fight, we’ll certainly spend Christmas time letting the good times roll! So, fellow-workers in both the private and public sectors, let’s forbid the wealthy from taking more money from our pockets. Let’s fight to make sure that the money needed for pensions, wages, jobs and public services is taken from the bank accounts of the real “privileged” people: the big shareholders and the bankers!


1 Delevoye, the High Commissioner for Retirement Reform, was forced to resign last week after it was revealed that he had “omitted” to declare that, on top of his present job, he occupied 13 different positions on various bodies, including one connected to insurance companies and another to the SNCF.