AT Observing the massive protests against pension reform in France from the UK, one says to himself that the distance between the two countries has never been greater. The British retirement age (no longer a mandatory age) has gradually increased to 65 from 2018. It is expected to reach age 67 in 2028, and there is already an additional deferral to age 68 to protect public finances. . While rumors of further postponements have raised fears of protests similar to those taking place in France, the general feeling is that long-serving workers should not live too early or too long. “Puts the burden on the government”.
However, in the United Kingdom, which experiences extreme socio-political inequalities, life expectancy in the poorest areas is up to twenty years shorter than in the most upscale neighborhoods (“ Health state life expectancy by national deficit deciles, England: 2018 to 2020 », Office for National Statistics, 25 April 2022). The British forget that retirement is not measured by an individual’s ability to continue working, but is designed to reap the benefits of social insurance and deferred wages over time.
Does this mean that there is tacit British support for Macron’s reforms here, in the face of the behavior of the French working class, which is too protected to survive in the harsh capitalist environment faced by its British and American counterparts? Yes and no.
Public spending cuts are now being felt keenly in the UK, particularly as people are currently experiencing a significant decline in their living standards as a result of high inflation, excess energy, Brexit and falling real wages. The generational contract that the standard of living should continue to improve from one generation to the next has been shattered. It is clear that this fact, along with post-pandemic fatigue, has fueled a broad protest movement in the public sector (transport workers, nurses, ambulance workers, civil servants, teachers, postal workers, university workers). The movement continued to gain popular support despite efforts by the government and its supporters in the right-wing press.
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