these young people tell us why they are worried

THOMAS SAMSON/AFP Protesters hold a banner reading ‘Youth’ and ‘high school students are angry’ (C) during a rally in Paris on January 19, 2023, as workers protest the French president’s plan to raise the legal retirement age beyond 2023. 62 to 64. – A day of strikes and protests began in France on January 19, set to disrupt transport and schooling across the country in a court case for the government as workers protested deeply unpopular changes to pensions. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)


Young people believe that extended working hours risk putting them in a slightly more precarious position.

DEMONSTRATION – Is retirement a job for young people? It seemed so. A large number of high school students and students participated in the mobilization against the pension reform in Paris on Thursday, January 19, 2023, responding to the calls of various trade unions such as UNEF, FSE or FIDL. school student. All these young people agree on one thing: yes, this reform applies to them too.

“It’s not just any old thing. It is an intergenerational work involving the young, the active, the unemployed and the elderly.Gwenn, a 17-year-old high school student who is president of FIDL 94 at the rally, gives us a swipe.

Among the arguments against reform, the marching high school students and students point to the risk of uncertainty, as well as the logic of overconsumption and overproduction, which they say is at odds with fighting global warming.

Reform hotspots

If they are worried about the extension of working time to 64 years, it is not only because of the fear of working for years. “If workers stay on the job longer, there will be less business opportunities for us. The market will be saturated”, believes Zélie, a 15-year-old high school student at the center of the march. His concern? “We will spend more time looking for work. So we will get a job later and our retirement age will be changed. »

They reveal several youthful risks. “There is 18% unemployment among young people (Fairly 18.3% in the third quarter of 2022, according to INSEE, editor’s note). If we change the retirement age, this number will increase even more.Gwenn claims.

This generation also says that they stand in solidarity with their elders. “It seems hard to see my parents go on for so many years”, tells us Pauline, a 24-year-old art student, had a massage with other friends from her school before joining the march. ” I will work as a freelancer, I know that I will not have a pension, or it will be broken. I kind of skimmed it. But I don’t necessarily demonstrate for myself. »

Although the march is off to a slow start, 17-year-old high school student Stina tells us she’s also worried about her parents’ retirement. They could leave before the age of 64 due to exhaustion and therefore with lower retirement pensions. “It will depend on us and their children to help them financially. It will take us time and risk putting us in an even more dangerous situation.”the girl thinks.

Retirement and global warming

The economy and the labor market are not the only issues that concern these young people. Zélie is also involved in the fight against global warming. Relates to pension reform: “Work harder to produce more and consume more. It goes with more pollution. And the planet is already in a very bad shape. » He is joined by another high school senior, Antoine*. Under hood and mask, he denounces: “Pension reform is a gift to the capitalist system and the rich in general. This logic is extremely harmful to the environment. »

A high school student wants us out “The logic of this productivity”one who does not want to live “the world is completely destroyed”. He cannot imagine his life at the age of 60. “Will there still be things when I’m this old?” This is the first question to askbelieves, is pessimistic. I don’t see myself in an industrialized society. Otherwise, I will not live to be 60 years old. Where then perhaps a ZAD (laughs) ? »

Ditto for Stina who is “trouble […] project 60 » because he does “I don’t know if the world can survive then”. A high school girl doesn’t want to live either “A world destroyed by previous generations and suffering from 50 degree heat waves in the summer, where all the temperate countries are overpopulated because the rest of the world is uninhabitable”.

fight against the government

There is an underlying sentiment behind the concerns: mistrust of government. There are also young people on the march, because this reform ” it is a sign of the deconstruction of the system as we know it today”According to Pauline.

MEEF Master’s student and UNEF Nanterre General Secretary Salome is grouped with members of her university and trade union. While they are chanting, jumping and waving anti-reform, he steps out to answer our questions and denounce the government’s logic: “Unsafe students, unsafe retirees, unsafe workers. Now we must unite against reform, but also against all of Macron’s policies. »

For an activist wrapped in a fluorescent pink K-Way, the reform falls within a broader set of policies that also affect young people. “The government is planning a reform of pensions and social assistance, which according to the beginning of the data we have, can only go in the wrong direction.he warns. Young people are not necessarily worried about such far-reaching reforms. But this is common sense. If we allow the government, it means leaving the door open for other reforms. »

“All the rights we won were through strikes and mass demonstrations” He remembers a hopeful student at 60, “To live in a society where we no longer have all these forms of exploitation and oppression, where we don’t have to fight for decent working conditions and wages”.

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