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France invokes clause to push through pension reform

Paris, March 1 (IANS) French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has said the government invoked a special clause in the country’s Constitution to push through a controversial pension reform plan without a parliamentary vote.

Speaking at the Lower House of Parliament, Philippe on Saturday announced his decision to use Article 49-3 to make into law the government’s pension reform bill, reports Xinhua news agency.

The French goverment has planned to replace the current pension system of 42 regimes by a point-based single one with same rules applying to all.

“I have decided to engage the government’s responsibility… Not to end the debate but to end this episode of non-debate in a parliament deprived of its eminent function to make a law,” said the Prime Minister.

Philippe blamed the opposition of impeding the draft law’s passage through the National Assembly, arguing that after more than 115 hours of debate, lawmakers discussed only eight Articles out of 65, with a huge number of amendments remained to be examined.

It was a strategy of deliberate obstruction by a minority with the sole purpose of preventing the debate, he said.

Members of parties supporting the government hold a majority in the National Assembly.

Under the French Constitution, the Prime Minister can make the government’s bill into a so-called “49-3 decree”, by passing the vote at Parliament.

The Opposition must propose a no-confidence motion within 24 hours, or the decree is deemed to have been adopted.

Shortly after the government’s decision, two motions by the MPs opposing the pension reform bill were filed.

Philippe Martinez, leader of the CGT union, denounced “a deeply outrageous attitude” by the government, pledging to bring people into the streets next week to protest the use of the 49-3.

Opposition against the pension reform endures in France.

After rolling strikes in transport services and country-wide street protests, the battle now seems locked in the Lower House of Parliament, where 41,000 amendments to the draft bill have been filed.

–IANS

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