French President Emmanuel Macron’s approval of the new retirement law has sparked anger and protests in France. The proposed pension changes have been under debate for over a year and are set to replace the current system of 42 separate schemes with universal points-based participation. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health states this new pension system will be fairer, more transparent, and sustainable in the long run.

However, the French public is not in agreement with the government’s claim about the new system. Their main concern is the rise in the retirement age from 62 to 64 years, which will negatively impact too many hardworking French citizens. France has some of the shortest working hours in Europe and therefore considers this change unacceptable.

The proposed changes could have a severe impact on specific industries that rely on early retirement including firefighters, transportation workers, and others. These groups have voiced their opposition and have gone on protests, sometimes leading to clashes with the police. Firefighters, for example, have been protesting vehemently for some time now, claiming that raising the retirement age will put many essential public workers at risk of injury or even death.

The French government maintains that these measures are necessary to balance the country’s finances and avoid putting future generations at risk. However, the French don’t seem to be buying it. They are concerned that the new pension scheme will negatively impact the quality and access to pension benefits.

Many also believe that the new system will benefit the wealthy and not provide enough for the working and middle-class citizens. The current French pension system is considered one of the most generous in Europe, with low retirement age and high benefit rates.

Many believe that the proposed changes will make the system more difficult to understand and navigate, leaving vulnerable groups in the cold. Public transport workers, for instance, will see a reduction in their benefits, which would adversely affect their lives after retirement. Some also argue that the new system will lead to less equality as it will be more challenging to obtain a full pension for those who work part-time or in unstable employment.

Additionally, the reforms have also led to concerns of social inequality among gender groups. Women fear that the new system will hurt their progress towards equality. Women who work part-time or in temporary positions will be disproportionately affected as they will have more difficulty accruing the necessary pension points to get a full pension.

The government claims that these benefits are due to the system being simpler and better administered. However, the unions argue that it’s merely transferring risk away from the government and onto the individual workers. The proposed pension system has been widely criticized, with many arguing for the maintenance of the current system instead.

Despite several rounds of negotiations with the unions, Macron and his government have not made substantial changes to the proposed retirement law. Thus, many have taken to the streets in protest.

The unrest shows no signs of abating with public transport workers set to stage another round of strikes. Firefighters and teachers have also staged protests in recent days. One thing is evident, the French public is against the government’s proposed changes.

The General Confederation of Labor (CGT), one of France’s largest unions, has called for a “massive” mobilization on January 24. This mobilization is poised to bring together various groups including teachers, transport workers, and trade unions. The objective is to protest the government’s proposed changes and to demand significant amendments to the proposed retirement reforms.

The backlash against Macron’s retirement plan is not entirely unexpected. The French President was elected on a mandate of change, and his administration has made several significant reforms since taking power. However, the proposed pension reforms are one of the most controversial so far, and it is becoming increasingly clear that it could destabilize his leadership.

While the public is unhappy with the proposed retirement plan, they are not optimistic about their ability to affect change. Recent polls show that only a small fraction of the French population support the government’s proposed changes. However, many doubt their ability to pressure the government to back down entirely.

Ultimately, the outcome of this social unrest is unclear. However, the government must engage with the protestors, seek common ground, and make the necessary changes to make the French population feel heard. Failure to do so could lead to more instability and unrest in the coming months and potentially threaten Macron’s presidency.