Macron Defends Pension Plan to Farmers, Fairgoers

Raising the retirement age will save the system, president insists
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 25, 2023 12:55 PM CST
Fairgoers Press Macron on Raising Retirement Age
People hold placards reading "metro, work, tomb" and "64 years it's dead" as they stage a protest against pension changes Saturday in Paris.   (Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP)

President Emmanuel Macron sought to defend his unpopular pension plan Saturday in an effort to show he hears concerns of farmers and other ordinary citizens at France's biggest farm fair. The pension changes meant to raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64, and other measures, were among recurrent topics during the visit at the Paris Agricultural Fair, where Macron was scheduled to spend all day, the AP reports. "I came here to support our farmers who are working hard, who have small pensions that we have substantially improved," Macron said.

A few activists briefly shouted "no to the pension plan" after he had just inaugurated the event early Saturday, brandishing cardboard posters reading "64 years, it's dead" and "metro, work, tomb." Macron has vowed to go ahead with the plan despite a series of strikes and protests. "That reform is important because it will enable us to save" state pensions that all workers receive, "a French treasure," Macron insisted. The system is projected to dive into deficit in the coming decade. "We cannot decrease workers’ purchasing power, we cannot decrease our retirees' pensions, therefore there is only one solution: working more," Macron argued.

Christian Asna, a cattle raiser in southwestern France, urged Macron to deliver on his promise to raise farmers' minimum pension as part of the changes, now being discussed at parliament. Macron "promised to remove the farming special pension scheme" so that farmers can benefit from the more generous mainstream workers' scheme, Asna explained, saying farmers now retire on less than $740 a month. "He promised us" at least $1,268 per month, he added. Macron met for hours with beef, pork, milk producers, vintners, and others, per the AP. He faced a few heated discussions and punctual boos but mostly was welcomed with respect, sometimes applause and thank-you's.

(Read more France stories.)

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