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'Forgotten' French retirees march for buying power

Thousands of retired people in France have marched in Paris to call for government measures to boost their buying power, claiming they have been “forgotten” despite their living costs “continuing to rise”.

The main protest took place in Place d’Italie in the capital city (4,000 people), but there were also marches in Tours (520 people), Dijon (500); Montpellier, Rouanne and Saint-Étienne (350); Marseille (300); Rennes (150); and Privas (50), according to counts by local police and Agence France-Presse journalists.

Nine unions called for the movement, with major demands including the total cancellation of the rise in social security payments (contribution sociale généralisée, CSG) for all pensioners, which is set to increase in line with inflation at 1.7% for 2018 for those earning more than €2,000 per month.

Protesters also called for a re-evaluation of pension amounts in line with inflation, and a return to pensions that are calculated according to former salaries.

Some also demanded the restitution of the now-cancelled ISF (l'impôt de solidarité sur la fortune, wealth tax), and more taxes on “big companies that do not pay their full tax amounts in France”, in order to “fill up France’s coffers”. “There is money there”, one protest slogan said.

Union leaders also called for President Emmanuel Macron to stand down, and argued that retired people had been “completely forgotten” in the economic measures introduced by the government in light of the gilets jaunes protests.

In December, President Macron announced the cancellation of the CSG increase for retired people who receive less than €2,000 per month - a measure that will affect around 70% of retirees.

Yet, some protesters said that they were less concerned with CSG specifically, and more with the general rise in the cost of living over the past decade.

One protester said: “For ten years, the cost of living has not stopped going up, despite our pensions going down.”

Another added: “I have been retired for nine years. Before, I could put aside some savings, whereas now I have even had to make cut backs on my food spending.”

Yesterday, a union delegation was received by Olivier Dussopt, secretary of state for Public Functions.

Mr Dussopt “reminded them of the different measures taken” by the government “in favour of the poorest retirees in 2019”. But union representative Olivier Jouchter said the meeting has been “unsatisfactory” and did not rule out further protests.

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