Between mobilization, indifference and resignation… To what extent do young Bretons feel concerned about the pension reform project? The high school and the student union stand together against it. They are calling for a new mobilization on Saturday 21 January. But aside from the processions, what does the future or young workers say about it?
“Hi ! It’s for the pension reform!“
With a red cap pressed down on his head, Camille finds it difficult to attract attention in front of the University of Rennes. It’s not for lack of trying! This young 21-year-old law student is also an activist at La France Insoumise.
Posted at the end of the Faculty of Economics and Management, he used the lunch break to encourage his peers to go to the demonstration organized the next day to condemn the pension reform project. On the leaflet he hands out, it says in large letters on a black and yellow background: “Get daronne to safety!”.
The formula clicks… in the void. Most students take the paper without looking at it when others politely refuse,”No, it will, thanksor ignore it excellently.
Laurena and Eurielle, enrolled in the first year of a law degree, admit it: “We don’t feel concerned about the subject at all. We didn’t even know about the project.”
“Maybe I should look into that, but it seems a bit far“, for his part recognizes Alexis, also a student. At his side, Alan is abundant: “We have just arrived at a higher education. It is true that this is an issue that will have consequences for our future. So we have to think about it, but it’s still a long way to go.“None of them will pound the pavement.
Like Lisa-Marie. She is in her second year of economics and management and “does not [se] not worried at all” on retirement. With a smile she nevertheless admits: “My father thinks it’s really important. He talks to me about it every night, tells me to demonstrate. But I think it’s a long time from now. So for now; I don’t think about it.”
But to hear Camille, the students feel genuinely worried. “Me, my classmates, when I talk to them, I feel that everyone is mobilized even those who are not very politicized.“
Because for the young LFI activist, it is first and foremost a matter of solidarity with his parents. “I see my father, a printer, and my mother, a saleswoman, who have worked all their lives and are already exhausted. I don’t know how they are going to do it he asks. For those who do not necessarily have time to mobilize, we must fight against this reform.”
A reform that Camille considers unnecessary and unfair. In a perfectly rehearsed speech, he elaborates: “Unnecessary because the system [des retraites] not in danger. We will definitely have a short period where things will be a little tense. But it would be sufficient to add 4 euros in social security contributions per Frenchman and Frenchman to make up for this deficit. And if we ask the workers today, they will be ready to pay 4 euros more rather than work as the reform wants. Also unfair when we know that by age 62, currently 25% of the poorest workers are already dead and that life expectancy in good health is 63. It is a reform of unprecedented social violence.“
According to INSEE, the life expectancy in good health in 2020 was 65.9 years for women and 64.4 years for men.
A little further on, two environmental students draw for the same reasons. Simon, in his third year of law and coordinator of the young ecologists, ensures that all high school and student associations “block“.”Among ecologists, the end of the world and the end of the month, it is the same battle. We feel deeply concerned about this reform, which for us goes in the same direction as an attack on the environment.”
For this other LFI activist met in front of a Rennes high school, “a united trade union front [lycéens et étudiants] takes place for the first time in 12 years, he said. In the summer I work as a seasonal worker in food factories. I see colleagues who are 50, 60 years old and already worn out from working.“
But if the young man wants to demonstrate, it is not only in support of his elders, but also “to ensure that you have a pension. Because if we withdraw our rights at this time, those of our generation will not be able to hope to have a dignified and adequate retirement..”
Suzanne, 19, is a film student. She also does small things and prefers to see the bright side of things. “We are a majority for being in study uncertainty and for having to work to pay for our studies. So we contribute to retirement from an early age.“
No doubt, these students, who are already hardworking, first worry about their short-term future and wonder what tomorrow will bring. Under these conditions, retirement, “for the moment we are still far from itSuzanne says and shrugs.
Not worried, however, a young bartender who has been working since the age of 16 points out that “when you’re a waiter, you walk a lot of miles. So when I’m 67… I’m going to have to adapt, do another job that might allow us to push that far. If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it.”
Even more fatalistic is Emile, 25 years old and a waiter in a café in the center of Rennes. “Restoration stinks. We are talking about working until the age of 67. I need an exoskeleton. I don’t want a pension, so I don’t want to demonstrate. (…) At 60, I see myself dead and buried.” Also, “In 40 years we will have other problems in terms of the environment, energy, ecological geopolitics…“
Finally, at a market, we meet 25-year-old Fanny. She is a farmer and gardener on the family farm. “In our profession, we don’t really retire. Grandma, she’s still on the farm. So if the retirement goes further back… it’s useless. (…) But, it is after so long, it still has time to change before then!“Fanny puts prudent money aside while she waits.
A demonstration, at the request of youth organizations and with the support of France Insoumise, is planned for Saturday 21 January in Paris.
(With Benoît Thibaut and Myriam Thiébaut)