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Macron signs France pension reform into law despite protests

French President Emmanuel Macron has signed his controversial pension reform into law, defying three months of protests and pleas from unions not to implement the legislation.

The alterations became law after the text was published overnight in France’s official journal on Saturday. 

This followed the approval on Friday by the Constitutional Council of the essence of the legislation, including the banner change of raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Unions warned they were calling for mass Labour Day protests on May 1.

Violent demonstrations also erupted in several cities overnight after the verdict was announced.

The nine-member Constitutional Council ruled in favour of key provisions of the reform, including raising the retirement age to 64 and extending the years of work required for a full pension, saying the legislation was in accordance with French law.

Six minor proposals were rejected, including forcing large companies to publish how many over-55s they employ, and the creation of a special contract for older workers.

The appearance of the text in France’s Official Journal – the gazette of record – means it has now been enacted into law.

“The Social Security Code is thus amended. In the first paragraph, the word: ‘sixty-two; is replaced by the word: ‘sixty-four’,” states the text, referring to the retirement age.

Macron’s pensions reform enacted into law as French unions remain defiant

‘Tidal wave’ on May 1

It remains to be seen if the months-long effort by trade unions to block the changes will continue after three months of strikes and protests.

Some 380,000 people had taken to the streets nationwide on Thursday in the latest day of union-led action, according to the interior ministry – a small fraction of the nearly 1.3 million who demonstrated at the height of the protests in March.

Unions issued a joint statement urging Macron not to sign the legislation into law, saying the issue was “not finished”.

The general secretary of the CGT union, Sophie Binet, called for a “popular and historic tidal wave” of people on the streets to oppose the reforms on May 1.

Last month, a strike by Paris garbage workers left the capital strewn with 10,000 tonnes of uncollected rubbish. Train services, oil refineries and schools have seen stoppages since January.

In a second decision on Friday, the court rejected a bid from opposition lawmakers to force a referendum on an alternative pension law that would have kept the retirement age at 62.

Fresh protests across France over pension reform ahead of key court ruling

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