French left tries to bog down pension reform

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French President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform was set for a complicated passage through parliament, starting Monday, after far-left lawmakers proposed no less than 19,000 amendments. Opposition deputies from the left and right alike have accused Macron’s centrist government of not giving them enough time to study the proposals, which provoked weeks of strikes by hardline unions. France’s Council of State, which gives official legal opinions on proposed legislation, also criticized the government for rushing it and said the government’s 1,029-page impact analysis was inadequate.

The Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Marc Fesneau Sunday accused the left-wing La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) of “obstruction” with its 19,000 amendments. But La France Insoumise’s leader, former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, said that the obstruction “is coming from the Elysee.”

Despite the plethora of amendments, Macron’s centrist bloc should be able to force the legislation through using its large majority in the National Assembly.

Macron argues that his planned single national pension system will be fairer, with almost all workers treated the same, although there are exceptions for the security forces and firefighters, who unlike aggrieved railway and hospital workers, will retain a right to retire early.

A conference on how to ensure the current system is financially stable in the interim is currently underway, as a concession from the government to moderate trade unions who rejected a plan to raise the standard age for retirement on a full pension from 62 to 64.

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