these young people explain to us why they are concerned

THOMAS SAMSON / AFP Protesters hold a banner reading “Youth” and a placard reading “high school students are angry” (C) during a rally in Paris on January 19, 2023, as workers strike over the plan by the President of France to raise the legal retirement age from 62 to 64. – A day of strikes and protests began in France on January 19, set to disrupt transport and education across the country in a trial for in government as workers oppose a deeply unpopular overhaul of pensions. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)


Young people believe that the extension of working hours risks dropping them a little further from certainty.

DEMONSTRATION – Is retirement a matter for young people? It seems so. Many processions of students and high school students are present in the mobilization against the pension reform, Thursday, January 19, 2023, in Paris, responding to calls from their various unions, such as UNEF, FSE or FIDL, the union high. student at school. These young people agree on one point: yes, this reform also concerns them.

“It’s not just an old thing. It’s an intergenerational affair that affects the young, the active, the unemployed and the elderly.slips us Gwenn, a 17-year-old high school student who is also the president of FIDL 94, who is present at the rally.

Among the arguments against the reform, the high school students and students present in the procession mention the risk of uncertainty, but also a logic of over-consumption and over-production, which are contradictory , according to them, in the fight against global warming.

Reform hotspots

If the extension of working hours to 64 years worries them, it is not only because of the fear of working more years. “If workers stay on the job longer, there will be fewer job opportunities for us. The market will be saturated”, believes Zélie, a 15-year-old high school student who came to demonstrate in the middle of the procession. His concern? “We will spend more time looking for a job. So we will have a job later and our retirement age will be moved. »

They are some to put in front of a risk of the precariousness of youth. “There is 18% youth unemployment (exactly 18.3%, in the third quarter of 2022, according to INSEE, editor’s note). If we move the retirement age, this number will only increase”Gwenn argued.

This generation also says it is in solidarity with the elders. “Seeing my parents go on for years, it seems complicated”, Pauline, a 24-year-old art student, told us, having a massage with other friends from her school before joining the procession. ” I will work as a freelancer, knowing that I will not have a pension, or that it will be fragmented. I skimmed a bit here. But I don’t have to show for myself. »

Although the procession started slowly, Stina, a 17-year-old high school student, explained to us that she was also worried about her parents’ retirement. They can, through exhaustion, leave before age 64 and therefore have a lower retirement pension. “It’s up to us, their children, to help them financially. We will need time and this risks making us even more dangerous”thought the girl.

Retirement and global warming

The economy and the job market are not the only concerns of these young people. Zélie is also there to fight global warming. This establishes a link to pension reform: “Work longer to produce more and consume more. This leads to more pollution. And the planet is in very bad shape. » He was with Antoine*, another high school student, he in his last year. Under his hood and his mask, he denounced: “Pension reform is a gift to the capitalist system and the rich in general. This logic is very harmful to the environment. »

The high school student wants us to leave “this logic of productivism”he who does not want to live in a “the world is completely destroyed”. He could not imagine his life at the age of 60. “Will there still be things when I’m that old?” This is the first question to askhe believes, pessimistic. I don’t see myself in an industrialized society. If not, I won’t live to 60. Maybe in a ZAD (laughs) ? »

Ditto for Stina who has ” mess […] project at 60 » because he does “I don’t know if the world will be alive at that time”. A high school girl also doesn’t want to live in “a world destroyed by previous generations and suffering from heat waves of 50 degrees in the summer, where all temperate countries are overpopulated because the rest of the world is uninhabitable”.

fight the government

Behind the concerns, an underlying feeling: a lack of trust in government. Young people are also present in the procession because this reform is ” a symptom of the breakdown of the system as we know it today”according to Pauline.

Salomé, a MEEF Master’s student and general secretary of UNEF Nanterre, was joined by members of her university and her union. While they were chanting, jumping and waving banners against the reform, he took it upon himself to answer our questions and denounce the government’s logic: “Insecure students, insecure retirees, insecure workers. Now that we must unite against the reform but also against all Macron’s policies. »

For the activist, wrapped in his fluorescent pink K-Way, this reform is therefore within a broader framework of policies that also affect youth. “The government is planning a reform of scholarships and social assistance that can only go in the wrong direction according to the beginning of the information we have.he warned. Young people are not necessarily concerned with such far-reaching reforms. But this is a general logic. If we let the government do this, that means leaving the door open for other reforms. »

“All the rights we have won have gone through strikes and mass demonstrations”, the expectant student, at age 60, recalled “to live in a society where we no longer have all these kinds of exploitation and oppression, where we no longer have to fight to demand decent working conditions and wages”.

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