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[News] France's Macron to force through pension reform with no vote


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The French government has decided to force through its unpopular pension reforms, avoiding a knife-edge vote in the National Assembly.

Although the plan to raise the pension age from 62 to 64 passed the upper house on Thursday, ministers realised they might not have the numbers in the lower house.

.Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne will now rely on a constitutional procedure.

Article 49:3 enables the government to pass legislation without a vote.

The pension reforms have prompted weeks of protests and strikes across France.

Even though President Emmanuel Macron was was re-elected last year on a platform of retirement reforms, his ruling coalition has no majority in the Assembly and would have needed support from the Republicans party.

Officials from his Renaissance party spent the morning desperately whipping members into line in a bid to get their bill over the line. They knew some of their MPs could vote against or abstain, faced with the evident unpopularity of the bill.

President Macron even suggested on the eve of the vote that he could dissolve the Assembly and call early elections. Maybe it was a bluff, or maybe it wasn't.

He began Thursday afternoon closeted with the prime minister and other key figures at the Élysée Palace, counting the yes and the no votes. Minutes before the Assembly was due to convene, sources told French media that Ms Borne would go ahead without a vote.

The problem with the 49:3 clause is that it would also allow the opposition to call a censure motion. The government also knows it will face anger from protesters on the street, who see the 49:3 as anti-democratic.

The unions, which have already masterminded eight days of protests across France, earlier appealed to MPs to reject the reforms. "Seventy per cent of the population and 94% of workers are opposed to this project," said François Hommeril of the CFE-CGC.

Philippe Martinez of the hard-line CGT warned that protests would carry on whether the government won the vote or used the constitution to ram the reforms through.

In a separate development, police moved in to clear a waste depot in Paris after police chief Laurent Nuñez told Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo that striking bin workers would be forced back to work under a government threat of jail or a large fine.

Since 5 March, piles of bin-bags have built up in many districts of Paris and several other cities, with some 7,600 tonnes uncollected by Thursday.

Refuse collectors currently work until they are 57, because of difficult working conditions. Under the reforms, they would have to continue until they are 59.

Under the reforms, workers would need to contribute into the system for 43 years to receive a full pension.










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