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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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A decent retirement for all

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Let’s re-read this statement with strong conviction: “As long as we have not solved the problem of unemployment in our country, frankly, it would be quite hypocritical to shift the legal age [de la retraite]. When today we are poorly qualified, when we live in a region which is in industrial difficulty, when we ourselves are in difficulty, when we have a fractured career, good luck already to reach 62 years old. This is the reality of our country…” Laurent Berger, the boss of the CFDT? Philippe Martinez, of the CGT? No, Emmanuel Macron… in April 2019, who then defended a pension reform with a philosophy radically different from that of today.

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It was the time when the President of the Republic sought to smooth inequalities by advocating a pension system called points where one euro contributed opened the same rights for all. The time, too, when the search for the financial balance of the system did not yet come into flagrant contradiction with social justice and the principle of equity.

Admittedly, Emmanuel Macron did not hide having changed his mind. During the presidential election, he very clearly announced that he wanted to reform pensions by raising the legal retirement age from 62 to 65. This conversion to a so-called parametric reform, guided by the sole desire for financial balance, was moreover the only real promise of the candidate, his liberal totem supposed to reflect his reforming desire.

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Modifying the pension system for the umpteenth time (after 2003, 2010 and 2014) is not, however, the real priority of public finances: if the State, Social Security and local authorities ended 2022 with an abyssal deficit of more than 170 billion euros, pensions, they show a surplus and will be in deficit only gradually in the coming years. We can thus doubt the urgency of the reform, unless its real objective is precisely to feed the coffers of the State… and therefore to make the effort to restore public finances weigh solely on the workers.

This would not be the least of the injustices of a reform whose slogan, “A project of justice, balance and progress”, unfortunately turns out to be very misleading. Because if Emmanuel Macron has let go of ballast, by stopping the age limit at 64, this project, which also provides for the acceleration of the extension of the contribution period, will primarily affect the middle and intermediate classes, when it will save a lot CSP+. The government may accompany its reform with shock absorbers for the poorest – such as the minimum pension raised to 1,200 euros – but the real losers are those who started working between the ages of 19 and 21 and who will not be able to benefit from favorable arrangements. long careers. These workers are partly those whom France applauded during the Covid. They are also those whose life expectancy is among the lowest and who therefore lose any real chance of enjoying a long and healthy retirement.

The ax has fallen, and it disadvantages millions of French people, the very people who are most affected by inflation, and some of whom are already despairing of social mobility. Emmanuel Macron therefore takes the risk of aggravating inequalities and stirring up social anger by making people believe that his reform is common sense when there are alternatives.

It is striking that the public debate thus evacuates any possibility of increasing pension contributions, in particular employers, and this while companies enjoy a record level of exemptions.

As for retirees, whose average standard of living, a French specificity, is higher than that of active workers, the wealthiest could also have been put to use. However, there was never any question of it, as if the president was particularly working to protect them – remember that retirees largely voted for him in 2022, even more than in 2017. After having incurred the reproach of being the president of the “rich”, Macron should not be perceived as the president of the “old”. Or like the one that opposes working people and pensioners, denying the former the basic justice of a decent retirement for all.

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Source : Nouvelobs

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