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The French are standing up for worker’s rights around the world

Last updated on March 25, 2023

HOUSTON, Texas – Vanessa’s story isn’t unique.  Like people all around the world, she began working fulltime shortly after graduating from university at the age of 22.  She is unique because of who she is and for receiving degrees in cultural anthropology and Arabic.  Chloe wanted to help recently arrived immigrants integrate into French life and culture.  Her first job wasn’t much.  She made copies and coffee, and prepared the reports her male bosses needed.  But she worked hard.

That was 39 years ago.   During her storied-career, Chloe rose through the bureaucracy and eventually became the boss of a multi-national nonprofit based in Paris.  She married a man, of the same age, she met shortly after beginning her career and together they raised three children.  Two girls and a boy.  After working for many years, the couple looked forward to retiring where they would travel, spend time with their grandchildren, and finish their life-long hobbies.

The couple only had one year left to go before retirement.

Now at age 61, Chloe and her husband, Marc, are suddenly faced with the prospect of having to work another two years.  That is if, French President Emmanuel Macron’s newly proposed law to raise the national retirement age from 62 to 64 passes.

Demonstrators rolls a wooden cable spool to a burning barricade during a protest in Paris, Friday, March 17, 2023. Protests against French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to force a bill raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 through parliament without a vote disrupted traffic, garbage collection and university campuses in Paris as opponents of the change maintained their resolve to get the government to back down. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

Macron says that France needs to raise the retirement age because the French economy is unable to support the current system and number of people who will retire in the near future.  He also cites the fact that the French, like people in other countries, have had less babies and are living longer.  Indeed, Japan and the United States are both faced with similar problems.

People across the country have protested Macron’s proposal for 12 days.  Earlier this week, protests turned violent in Marseille and Paris, after Macron tried to pass the law without voting in the National Assembly. Macron received support from Prime Minister, Elizabeth Borne, who invoked a special constitutional power to skirt a vote in the chaotic lower chamber.  Causing lawmakers on the right and left to file no-confidence motions that will be voted on Monday.

If the vote of no confidence passes, Macron and his government could be out of power and the unpopular proposal to raise the retirement age could be dead-in-the-water.

Meanwhile, the streets of Paris and many cities across the country are piled high with garbage because the collectors have been on strike against the proposed retirement age increase.

One person said, “The workers of the world already give 40 years of their lives to corporations because the government says we must.  While there is give and take between the corporations and their workers, if the worker is legally bound to work another two years, the government is enforcing modern day slavery upon the citizens of France. This is a time for the workers of France to stand-up and shout ‘No’ to prolonged wage slavery.”

Photos and captions courtesy of The Associated Press. Some informational content provided by unnamed sources.  Names and situations have been altered to protect identities. Some literary license has been applied.   

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