The showdown continues on the pension file. Without giving in on the main demands of the unions, the government is presenting its reform to the Council of Ministers on Monday. Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt must then address the press with government spokesman Olivier Véran.

After the first day of strikes and demonstrations, which brought together between one and two million people on the streets on Thursday, and before the next one scheduled for January 31, Emmanuel Macron and his executive are taking advantage of this formal meeting to reaffirm their objective: a parliamentary debate at a run for the entry into force of the project in the summer.

The postponement of the legal age of departure from 62 to 64 is unanimously rejected by the unions, as well as by most of the opposition and, according to polls, a large majority of French people. The Head of State, who estimated on Sunday that he had already shown “openness” in relation to the program for his second five-year term which initially provided for the 65 years, refused to say clearly that he would maintain the 64 years until end, so as not to “replace” the parliamentary debate.

Margin adjustments

The ministers take turns to ensure that they are ready for “dialogue” in order to “enrich” the text, but only on the margins. In particular, they opened the door for the first time, during the weekend, to firmer measures on the employment of seniors. The Minister of Public Accounts Gabriel Attal thus said he was ready to “look without taboo at coercive measures for companies that would not play the game”.

On the other hand, he was less willing on another point which is tense even in the ranks of the Les Républicains party, yet the only announced ally of the executive in the Assembly: the fact that people who started working at 20 will have to contribute at age 44, and not 43 like the others, to obtain a full pension.

The CFDT deplores the method

On the opposition side, MP François Ruffin assured Sunday that LFI would bring “a determined opposition” to the Assembly. But he promised the left would “not sink into parliamentary cretinism” with blind obstruction, saying the “heart of the battle” would be in the streets. The president of the National Rally Jordan Bardella for his part proposed a “referendum” as a “top exit”.

Among the unions, the reform still does not pass. “We hope to do even stronger on the 31st”, warned the secretary general of the CGT Philippe Martinez, stressing that “until then, every day there will be initiatives in companies, in the departments”. As for the leader of the CFDT Laurent Berger, he deplored the form chosen by the executive to examine his bill: an amending budget for Social Security, which makes it possible to limit the debates in time and to use the weapon of 49.3.

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