Emmanuel Macron calls for support for French pension reform as strikes continue

Emmanuel Macron calls for support for French pension reform as strikes continue

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By Reuters:

Strikes blocking fuel deliveries from French refineries rolled into a sixth day on Monday, putting further pressure on President Emmanuel Macron as he rushes to shore up support for unpopular pension reforms in a final parliamentary vote .

In addition to major French refineries blocked, rail transport is disrupted and rubbish is piling up on the streets of Paris and other French cities following rolling strikes launched last week across other sectors of the economy.

To avoid further fueling the anger of the French population, massively opposed to the pension reform, the Macron government hopes to avoid resorting to a procedure, known as 49:3, which would allow it to pass a text in parliament without a vote. .

Although the French Senate on Saturday approved the bill, the main measure of which is to raise the retirement age by two years to 64, it still faces parliamentary hurdles before it becomes law, particularly in the National Assembly, where Macron’s supporters do not have an absolute majority. .

The next step, scheduled for Wednesday, is to convene a joint committee of lawmakers from the lower and upper houses, seven each, to agree on a final version of the text.

The last and crucial moment would then be a final vote on Thursday, both in the Senate and in the National Assembly.

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Macron’s party needs the support of Republicans in the National Assembly to secure the bill’s approval. But Tory lawmakers are sharply divided on the issue and there are even cracks in the presidential camp, with Macron’s former environment minister Barbara Pompili opposing it.

“Some deputies are still hesitating, we must be able to discuss with them”, declared government spokesman Olivier Veran on LCI television, adding that all the conditions were met “so that we do not lack votes”.

Veran also echoed Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, who said she preferred a vote rather than using the 49:3 procedure, which refers to the related article of the French constitution.

Laurent Berger, general secretary of France’s largest trade union, the CFDT, said on Sunday that resorting to this procedure would represent a “democratic flaw” and would lead to a “great degree of bitterness” among the population.

Despite lower-than-expected turnout in Saturday’s protests, French unions called for another day of action on Wednesday, hoping to keep the pressure on the government until the end of the parliamentary process.

Meanwhile, at the TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA) Haulchin petrol depot in northern France, a few hundred union supporters joined a picket line and burned tires, preventing a number of trucks from entering or leaving. out, a Reuters witness said.

The police then arrived and cleared the blockade.

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