For U.S. public pension funds, divesting from oil, coal, and gas would result in overall higher financial value. That is the key takeaway from a new study examining the past decade’s portfolio performance for several of the largest public pension funds in the country. The analysis by researchers at the University of Waterloo, published today in partnership with the organization Stand.earth, has found that the total cumulative value of six major U.S. public pension funds would have been about 13 percent higher had they divested from fossil fuel holdings ten years ago – equivalent to around $21 million in earnings.
In the 14th major mobilization since January, French workers hit the streets across the country on Tuesday, June 6, protesting the controversial pension reforms forcefully passed by the Emmanuel Macron-led government which increased the retirement age from 62 to 64. The mobilization was called by a coordination of trade unions, left-wing parties of the New Ecological and Social People’s Union (NUPES) coalition, as well as various youth groups. According to the union estimates, over 900,000 people participated in the protests in 250 different locations. Around 300,000 people marched in Paris alone, denouncing the unpopular pension reforms.
Spontaneous protests broke out in France on April 14, Friday, after the country’s Constitutional Council ratified the increase in the retirement age from 62 to 64, the most controversial aspect of the pension reforms pushed by the Emmanuel Macron-led government. Macron signed the bill into law early on Saturday. Even though the Council struck down certain provisions of the bill, it also rejected the first version of the Referendum of Shared Initiative (RIP) on the implementation of the reforms. The proposal for the referendum was submitted by the MPs from the left-wing New Ecologic and Social Peoples Union’s (NUPES) coalition. The Constitutional Council will decide on a second RIP on May 3.
A new wave of unrest over a pension reform engulfed Paris and other French cities Thursday, with enraged protesters occupying the building of the US-based investment firm BlackRock and setting fire to a popular restaurant favored by President Emmanuel Macron. Dozens of trade union members streamed into BlackRock’s Paris offices in the historical Centorial building, where they set off firecrackers and chanted slogans directed at the company’s private pension fund. “The government wants to throw away pensions, it wants to force people to fund their own retirement with private pension funds, but what we know is that only the rich will be able to benefit from such a setup,” said protester Françoise Onic, a school teacher.
This second, and last, term of presidency for Emmanuel Macron has been highlighted with increased police violence. The French parliament passed a bill making it obligatory to declare every demonstration to the authorities. Declared demonstrations, for the most part, do not face police violence. Yet, last month demonstrators of all ages were on the streets of France every day, rioting and expressing their anger at the decisions of president Macron. These spontaneous non-declared demonstrations are being targeted by police. The latest incidents in Saint Soline on March 25, demonstrate how police are dealing with protestors, leaving one person in a coma and several injured or even mutilated.
Major trade unions in France estimate that two million people hit the streets across France on Tuesday, March 28, denouncing the controversial pension reforms pushed by Emmanuel Macron’s government. The reforms were forcibly passed in the National Assembly on March 16 using Article 49.3 to bypass the parliamentary vote. The move has further weakened the legitimacy of the reforms, already detested by the majority of the French working class. While the government, headed by President Macron and Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, narrowly survived a no-confidence vote on March 20, the approval rating of the president has plummeted along with political ‘good will’ for his neo-liberal Renaissance (RE) party, as anger against the anti-worker pension reforms rages across the country.
Since President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Élizabeth Borne rammed through the “reform” of France’s pension system March 16 — an attack which will require workers to work longer to obtain a full pension — the class struggle has grown more intense. Millions of workers struck on March 23 to protest this new law, which extends their retirement age to 64 from 62. The law must still be reviewed by the Constitutional Council, which can reject or modify it. The new pension law provides fewer protections for workers who have arduous jobs and/or dangerous working conditions.
Protests and strikes against unpopular pension reforms kicked off again Tuesday across France, with police security ramped up amid government warnings that radical demonstrators intended “to destroy, to injure and to kill”. Concerns that violence could mar the demonstrations prompted what Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin described as an unprecedented deployment of 13,000 officers, nearly half of them concentrated in the French capital. After months of upheaval, an exit from the firestorm of protest triggered by President Emmanuel Macron’s changes to France’s retirement system looked as far away as ever.
Despite the absence of genuine revolutionary forces capable of providing honest and reliable leadership, France is apparently stumbling toward a pre-revolutionary juncture, as the videos on this page seem to suggest. It's undeniable that not just France, but all of Western Europe is being increasingly shaken, rendered profoundly unstable, by the same disease afflicting the rest of the continent, along with much of what its numerous apologists insist on calling "the West", a devious way of referring to Western imperialism, a decadent, out-of-touch, war-addicted, and ultimately unfixable, form of financialised neoliberalism.
French workers angry that the pension age is being increased blocked access to a terminal at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on a day of nationwide protests. The demonstrations on Thursday forced some travellers to get there on foot. Train services were also disrupted and some schools shut while garbage piled up on the streets, and electricity output was cut, as unions pressured the government to withdraw the law that delays retirement by two years, changing it from age 62 to age 64. Plumes of smoke were seen rising from burning piles of debris blocking traffic on a highway near Toulouse, in southwestern France, and wildcat strikes briefly blocked roads in other cities as well.
On March 16, the French government invoked the emergency provision Article 49.3 of the Constitution in the parliament and passed a controversial pension reform, bypassing the parliamentary vote. The decision announced by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne to avoid voting on the pension reforms envisaged in the ‘law of amending financing of Social Security for 2023’, provoked ire from progressive legislators of the New Ecological and Social People’s Union (NUPES) coalition as well as large sections of civil society. Spontaneous protests have already broken out across the country condemning the forced approval of the bill.
For the first time in the history of France, trade unions have called for a two-day general strike that will extend to March 8, International Working Women’s Day. The general mobilization will begin on Tuesday, March 7, and it is expected to cause widespread protests all over the country. This is the first time since May 1968 that trade unions have issued a joint call for a general strike that will last for more than 24 hours. While actions for March 8 have grown in strength over the past years, this year’s mobilizations are expected to be particularly powerful. For the first time, it is social movements as a whole, and not the feminist movement alone, that is calling for the strike on International Working Women’s Day.
Wharton, New Jersey - At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Refresco — a transnational corporation that produces and bottles soft drinks for major brands such as Tropicana and Gatorade — had a single response to its staff about the public health crisis unfolding at its Wharton, NJ plant an hour outside of New York City: show up to work. According to the workers at the plant and their union, employees exposed to the virus were denied time off, the factory remained open despite a broader economic shutdown, on top of the 12-hour shifts the company required. (Workers say the company used the pandemic to justify longer shifts, while Refresco claims the new policy went into place prior to the emergence of COVID-19). Outraged, the predominantly immigrant workforce formed a union, winning their first election in June 2021 in what was one of the largest blue-collar union victories during the pandemic.
Demonstrations and strikes began in France on Thursday, January 19, as President Macron pursues his bill to raise the legal retirement age to 64 years. Trade unionists estimate that by noon local time, approximately one million people across the country had taken to the street to oppose the bill. By the end of the day, almost two million people participated in protests in different cities, with 400,000 marching in Paris alone, according to approximations from the General Confederation of Labour (CGT). Macron’s proposal is part of an attempt to adapt the Social Security Finance Bill, a discussion that the French Parliament will tackle from January 29 until March 26. In case the government does not back down from its plan, mobilizations are certain to expand and continue throughout the duration of the parliamentary debate. The next strike has already been announced for January 31.