France: Macron signs controversial pension bill into law despite long-running protests

French President Emmanuel Macron has signed into law a controversial bill to raise the country’s retirement age by two years, defying three months of protests and calls for him to halt the disputed legislation.

Macron signed the bill on Saturday, hours after the approval by France’s highest constitutional council of the essence of the legislation, including the banner change of raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.

The council ruled in favor of key provisions of the reform, saying the legislation was in accordance with French law.

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.

The nine-member council, however, rejected six minor proposals, including forcing large companies to publish how many people above 55 they employ, and the creation of a special contract for older workers.

Before the council ruling, protests were held in several cities across the country, including Rouen in the west and Marseille in the south, slowing or stopping traffic.

In an incident outside Paris, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne was interrupted while visiting a supermarket by a group of people chanting, “We don’t want it,” referring to the pension reform.

Protests and strikes have been underway against the reforms since the start of this year. Unions have vowed to continue opposing the measures and called on workers across the country to return to the streets on 1 May.

Unions and the left accused Macron of showing “contempt” towards those behind the protest movement by signing the bill into law.

The move “confirms the violent contempt of the president both for the population and in particular for the trade unions,” said the leader of the CGT union Sophie Binet.

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