Arthur De Laborde, with AFP
3:49 p.m., January 28, 2023modified to
7:26 p.m., January 28, 2023
Under the cloudy sky of her Norman constituency, Elisabeth Borne came discreetly to counter this Saturday the “strong wind” which blows on her pension reform to clarify the points of concern, without going back to the age measurement which crystallizes the oppositions . “We will continue to explain the project because, I repeat, there is a lot of misinformation”, affirms the Prime Minister after a smooth exchange at the town hall of Vire, in her constituency of Calvados, with inhabitants invited by his deputy Freddy Sertin.
She first went without press in the morning to the wishes of the mayor of the small town of Saint Rémy, Serge Ladan. Then with a light escort and some media, including AFP, the head of government went to Vire, 17,600 inhabitants. She had already participated, without being announced, in a public meeting in Nogent-sur-Marne (Val-de-Marne), the day before the first mobilization against the reform, which brought together in the street between 1.2 and two million of people. A few posters from the CGT, Solidaires and FSU unions calling for the second day of demonstrations on Tuesday dot the walls of the city. Elisabeth Borne crosses them between a meeting with Renaissance activists at the permanence of her deputy and a public meeting at the town hall.
“Identify situations that must be taken into account”
A sobriety which contrasts with the former Prime Minister François Fillon who, in 2010, had called a press conference the day after the first day of demonstrations against his pension reform. In front of a hundred local actors and residents, Elisabeth Borne does not speak of a project “promoting social progress”, but admits that “when we engage in a discussion on pensions, we highlight that there are inequities in the system because there are several types of regimes”. However, it rules out the possibility of a point-based retirement system, demanded by three speakers in the room.
Developed by former Matignon host Édouard Philippe, this project was favored by the CFDT before being abandoned due to the Covid-19 epidemic, but it “created a lot of concerns” and remains “complicated” , she says. Elisabeth Borne “does not doubt that there are things that may have escaped” the government in the reform and is counting on these exchanges, after the social and political consultations in the fall, to “identify situations that must be taken into account. account”. The executive’s communication on the reform has recently experienced some hiccups, in particular when the Minister for Relations with Parliament Franck Riester admitted that women were “a little penalized” by the age measure.
“See you on Tuesday”
Tirelessly answering questions, she explains the difference between the net and the gross of small pensions or promises those who started working at the age of 20 to “see if there is an adjustment to be made”, while her interlocutors congratulate her to “take on a mountain such as retirement”. No one in the room disputes the postponement of the age from 62 to 64, which crystallizes the opposition of all the unions and most of the opposition. However, neglecting the “large mobilizations” against the pension reform “would be a fault” for the government as for the Parliament, warns the secretary general of the CFDT, Laurent Berger, on Saturday in an interview with Le Monde.
“We do not take this pension reform lightly”, assures the Prime Minister, then presenting her wishes to the inhabitants of the very rural town of Saint-Manvieu-Bocage. “Why do you not take into account the 70%” of French people who do not want the reform, asks him in an improvised exchange a 58-year-old worker, Yannick Desrues, who would rather “pay more” contributions than “work longer” . “There will be a debate in Parliament” which begins on Monday, replies the Prime Minister. “See you Tuesday!”, Launches an activist from the South union who will demonstrate and promises a “standoff”. “I hear what you are saying,” said the head of government, but “we will not agree”.
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