Parisians Strike Against Rising Retirement Ages

The retirement age is set to go up, as of mid-April 2023: citizens line the trash-filled streets to protest while trash collectors strike.



French citizens group to protest against the government’s rising age for available pensions while raising flags, chanting, and setting trash on fire.

As families start looking forward to their summer vacations, strikes in Paris serve as a serious issue for those trying to indulge in the city of love. 

On January 19, 2023, President Emmanuel Macron proposed a bill to push back the retirement age from 62 years old to 64. Despite citizens pushing back against the two-year difference, Macron officially put the bill in place on April 15, 2023. 

For trash workers, their retirement age changed from age 57 to 59 years. In response, for three weeks, trash collectors stopped picking up trash and left 10,000 tons of trash throughout the city. On March 21, 2023, Police Chief Laurent Nunez ordered 674 sanitation personnel and 206 garbage trucks to start their work in an attempt to clean up the city. However, on April 4, 2023, protests picked up again and workers stopped picking up trash. 

Similar to the United States, according to the Library of Congress, the French government is a prosperous and stable democracy.” However, unlike the US, France has a stricter retirement age policy, where citizens can only start collecting their pension at 64 years for most jobs and 59 years for trash collectors. This is stricter because for many government jobs, citizens have to continue work until they can receive money to retire. In the US, citizens can officially start collecting our form of pension (social security) at 62 years of age. While this is the earliest age to do so, citizens earn 30% less than they would earn if they started collecting at 67 years, or their full retirement age.

Not only have the strikes in Paris affected the stench and the increased volume of people throughout the city, but tourists are also questioning their trip and whether or not they are safe to visit the popular place for families to travel. Many families are worried the use of tear gas and violence in several strikes might affect their travel. As it is not officially travel season in Europe, the fewer tourists that have visited Paris have been safe from the widespread strikes amongst the city. 

From March 24 and on, Paris requires tourists to “exercise a high degree of caution.” This is because tear gas and water cannons have been used to protect the police force from protesters.

Back in January, at the start of all the strikes, schools and transportation services were shut down for what was considered as “Black Thursday,” 1.1 million protesters attended over 200 rallies. They protested all over the country, not just in the heart of Paris. Airports were specifically affected.

 In this period, transportation services, like airplanes, trains, and buses, have been significantly disrupted. Lisbon Ziegler (‘23) mentioned she remembered a friend who visited Italy over Spring Break and stopped through Paris for a 12-hour layover at the Charles De Gaulle International Airport. She recalls her friend saying she wanted to visit the city because she had nothing to do in the airport. But she couldn’t because there were strikes right outside the airport and she had no transportation to do so.

The same happened to many people across the world. On April 13, between 20 and 25 percent of flights were canceled because of air traffic due to the strikes. So, not only are French citizens affected by the simplest actions like going on a walk or taking the bus to school, but tourists might run into trouble flying and have to prepare themselves for unsafe conditions in Paris. 

As of April 15, President Macron and France’s Constitutional Council officially reformed the bill regarding pension age. Now, the government officially requires a minimum age of 64 to collect their pensions for retirement. At the same time, the beginning of May brings rise to more strikes and uniting unions. On May 1, 2023, citizens rushed to the streets once again to return to protesting in hopes of appealing the pension reform.