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Macron delays age hike to win over largest union in strike

Ramin Mazaheri

Press TV, Paris

For the second time in three days hundreds of thousands of people marched across France to demand the withdrawal of President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to scrap the pension system.

France’s general strike has continued for 38 consecutive days, with blockades of oil refineries now added to the labor actions. Many say there is a Western media blackout on France’s turmoil, now the longest labor movement in domestic history.

The government has only negotiated with unions for a handful of days since the strike began. This week they did leak to the press some of the final details of their unprecedented universal “points system”, causing anger among union negotiators who pointed out they had been wasting their time discussing incorrect facts. The government did announce their first concession - a temporary reprieve to raising the retirement age by two years.

France’s so-called “independent” unions are seemingly always disunited. During the Age of Austerity many unions have selfishly accepted sweetheart deals given by the government to weaken labor movements in a classic “divide and conquer” tactic. The postponement is aimed to win over the nation’s largest union, as their withdrawal would likely break the back of the strike, even though polls show over 70% of the country wants Macron’s plan withdrawn completely.

Many wonder why other sources of money can’t be taxed instead of the pensions system? France’s CAC 40 stock exchange just reported its most profitable year since 2007, paying out 50 billion Euros last year to those wealthy enough to own stocks.

Many Yellow Vests have called a truce with mainstream political actors like unions, whom they see as corrupted, and their “Act 61” joined with the pension demonstrators. If the nation’s largest union does reject joining the strike next week the movement could collapse, and many Yellow Vests will claim vindication.

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