After weeks of anti-government protests — speared by the “yellow vests” — the French government decided to shelve a plan to reform its pension plan. As reported by The New York Times, the government, led by President Emmanuel Macron, announced on Saturday that would withdraw the proposal that would have raised the retirement age by two years to 64 years of age. The country is currently trying to reform its pension programs after fearing that its generous plans could leave the nation with a $19 billion deficit.
“To demonstrate my confidence in the social partners… I am willing to withdraw from the bill the short-term measure I had proposed’ to set a so-called ‘pivot age’ of 64 with effect from 2027,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe wrote in a letter to union leaders, as reported by BBC.
Though many politicos saw this as a capitulation from President Macron, the 42-year-old French leader publicly declared it “a constructive compromise.” However, the government added that despite this concession, pension reform plans will continue.
Macron and the government are currently working on a program that would unite the current 42 pension plans that are available in France. The government hopes to create a single points-based system that they claim would be fairer and more transparent. However, unions have complained that it would likely cause millions to work longer for a smaller payout.
As a result, protests had raged through France for weeks. It has had an incredibly damaging effect on the economy, as police have been dispersed to control the crowds and public and private property has been destroyed as arson and other destruction plague the nation.
In Paris, police used tear gas to try to disperse crowds that were smashing windows, defacing property buildings with graffiti and lighting fires in garbage cans.
Meanwhile, a strike of transit workers meant that disrupted transportation services continued for the 38th day.
Though many in the unions are cheering this victory, leaders of the movement have asked their adherents to continue to engage in protest.
“We’ve got to continue to mobilize, until they pull the whole plan, pure and simple,” Eric Coquerel, a representative in Parliament and a leading voice in the far-left France Unbowed party, per The New York Times.
The recent demonstrations are just the last in a long list that has become a feature of French life since November 2018. The protestors, called “yellow vests” due to their appearance, originally took to the streets to decry Macron’s attempted austerity proposals.
The marches have had incredible lasting power, even surviving a crackdown a year ago where a leader of the movement was arrested, as previously reported by The Inquisitr.