Emmanuel Macron faces new wave of nation-wide strikes after 'scandalous' undemocratic move

's controversial reform proposals sparked a wave of protests across in December, with public and private workers joining forces against changes to the pension system. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced on Saturday the Government had invoked a rarely-used special power to pass the proposed law without the need for a parliamentary vote. The move was branded as "profoundly scandalous" by opposition parties, who have accused Mr Philippe and President Macron of attempting to bypass public scrutiny.

Trade unionists have condemned the move, with the general secretary of the French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT) Laurent Berger warned it would be "disastrous for democracy"  to conclude the reform debate without a proper vote.

Yves Veyrier from the Labour Force (FO) union denounced the "incomprehensible and unacceptable attitude" the French Government had adopted despite the

Mr Veyrier also hit out at Mr Philippe and President Macron for taking the decision to invoke the so-called 49-3 special rule at an extraordinary Cabinet meeting that focused on France's response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Writing on Twitter, the trade unionist wrote: "FO calls for an end to the parliamentary process.

"After three years, the government has failed to explain or convince, and presents a project with incomplete projections, uncertain both legally and constitutionally."

He continued: "This is the worst signal that could be given to the world of work and to massively mobilized employees.

"FO can only denounce such an attitude on the part of the government. FO, confident of his analyses, maintains its refusal of this project, requests its abandonment and withdrawal.

"This determination will not falter."

Under pressure from the unions, the government agreed to temporarily drop a proposal to push back the age for a full pension to 64 from 62.

But unions have been told to find another way to balance the pension books or risk having the provision added back into the new system.

Mr Macron, a former investment banker, has insisted the new system will be more transparent, fairer and help plug a stubborn deficit.

But unions accuse him of pushing through a reform that will effectively force millions of people to work longer or accept lower pensions – or sign up for private, US-style investment accounts.

Industrial action against the reform in December 2019 became the longest strike since the record was first set in 1995 over welfare cutbacks.

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