Unions call for fresh strikes against expedited pension reform bill
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French unions opposed to President Emmanuel Macron's controversial pension overhaul have called for a new day of strikes on Tuesday 3 March, after Prime Minister Edouard Philippe moved to push the reform bill through parliament without a vote.
The "intersyndicale" umbrella group led calls for the day of national action, with the hardline CGT union denouncing the prime minister's attemp to "shut down parliamentary debate...and use the confusion around the coronavirus epidemic to circumvent a major social conflict.
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On Tuesday, the National Assembly will hear two motions of censure against Philippe's use of Article 49-3 of the constitution, which he employed to push the draft bill through parliament, after opposition MPs filed tens of thousands of amendments.
Macron loyalists branded the mountain of revisions a cynical ploy to stall the bill's passage through parliament.
The motions of censure, filed by the conservative Les Républicains and a bloc of leftist MPs, have almost no chance of passing, as Macron's LaRem party has a majority in the lower house.
Pension reform was one of Macron's key campaign promises. His proposals have brought millions out onto the streets during a record transport strike and ten days of general strike between 5 December and 20 February.
The project aims to merge 42 sector-specific pension regimes into a single points-based system, which the government says would be more transparent while also ensuring a more sound financial footing as the population ages.
Edouard Philippe also wants to create incentives to encourage people work longer, notably by raising the entitlement age for a full pension to 64 while maintaining the legal retirement minimum at 62.
Unions and lawmakers say the reforms are an attack on hard-earned benefits that help compensate for salaries below those in the private sector and will ruin public services.
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