French workers may have to retire at 64 and many are in uproar. Here's why

Paris CNN —Impromptu protests broke out in Paris and across several French cities Thursday evening following a move by the government to force through reforms of the pension system that will push up the retirement age from 62 to 64.
Macron made social reforms, especially of the pensions system, a flagship policy of his 2022 re-election and it’s a subject he has championed for much of his time in office.
However, Thursday’s move has so inflamed opposition across the political spectrum, that some are questioning the wisdom of his hunger for reforms.
The “collective decision” to do so was taken at a meeting with the president, ministers and allied lawmakers mid-Thursday, she said.
File photograph of French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris on January 3.
Why is this such a big deal for the French, who still have generous pension arrangements compared to other Western countries?
“No pensions reform has made the French happy,” Pascal Perrineau, political scientist at Sciences Po university, told CNN on Friday.
Pensions reform has long been a thorny issue in France.
In 1995, weeks-long mass protests forced the government of the day to abandon plans to reform public sector pensions.
Loic Venance/AFP/Getty ImagesFor many in France, the pensions system, as with social support more generally, is viewed as the bedrock of the state’s responsibilities and relationship with its citizens.
For sure, popular anger over pension reforms will only complicate Macron’s intentions to introduce further reforms of the education and health sector – projects that were frozen by the Covid-19 pandemic – political scientist Perrineau told CNN.
The current controversy could ultimately force Macron to negotiate more on future reforms, Perrineau warns – though he notes the French President is not known for compromise.