French unions will take to the streets again today to protest the government’s pension reforms.
The union-led demonstrations have been ongoing since December 5, causing the shutdown of various services, including public transport, flights and schools. Protesters are primarily objecting to the government’s plan to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64 by incentivising people to work longer.
France’s largest union, the CFDT, will join the protests for the first time, which means turnout could exceed the 800,000 that demonstrated on December 5. The CFDT generally supports pension reform but has drawn a line over increasing the retirement age.
President Emmanuel Macron’s government could alleviate heat from protesters by scrapping its plan for the retirement age. However, the government has so far vowed no “magic announcements” to end the protests.
If no concessions are made, the Christmas period will be tricky for the movement. Unions disagree over whether to continue demonstrating through the holidays—the CFDT is against doing so—which could weaken the protests. However, if demonstrations continue over Christmas, the movement risks losing the high public support it currently enjoys.
As such, the standoff is likely to continue through the new year, when the government can further gauge the movement’s strength before considering concessions.
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Alex is a senior analyst in the Current Developments team with a primary focus on the Americas. He also serves as an editor on The Daily Brief.