French workers are striking nationwide, saying “not” to reform Macron’s pension system

  • Police hearth tear gasoline on the outskirts of a Paris protest
  • The federal government desires to boost the two-year retirement age to 64
  • Railways, colleges and refineries are amongst these affected
  • Macron’s reformist credentials are at stake
  • Opinion polls present broad opposition to pension reform

PARIS (Reuters) – French staff went on strike and marched throughout the nation on Thursday, stopping trains and shutting down electrical energy manufacturing in protest towards authorities plans to boost the retirement age by two years to 64.

The strike is a serious take a look at for President Emmanuel Macron, who mentioned on Thursday his pension reform plan, which opinion polls present is deeply unpopular, was “honest and accountable” and have to be applied.

The protesters disagreed.

“It’s the salaries and pensions that have to be elevated, not the retirement age,” learn a big banner carried by staff that opened the protest march in Excursions in western France.

Isabel, 53, a social employee, mentioned her job was too troublesome so as to add one other two years: “I will must arrange my strolling body if it will get mounted.”

Lots of of 1000’s took half in rallies throughout the nation, in line with police estimates compiled by Le Monde newspaper. In Good, within the south of France, a big banner learn: “No to reform.”

Police fired tear gasoline on the fringes of a Paris protest when masked people wearing black threw projectiles at their traces. BFM TV, citing police, mentioned about 20 folks had been arrested.

The federal government says pension reform is significant to making sure the system doesn’t go bankrupt. Suspending the retirement age by two years and lengthening the fee interval would herald 17.7 billion euros ($19.1 billion) in annual pension contributions, permitting the system to interrupt even by 2027, the Labor Ministry estimates.

Unions argue that there are different methods to make sure the survival of the pension system akin to taxing the super-rich or growing employer contributions or these of better-off pensioners.

“This drawback could be solved otherwise, by taxes. Staff shouldn’t must pay the general public sector deficit,” mentioned Laurent Berger, chief of CFDT, France’s largest commerce union.

Extra hits?

The problem for the unions is to show opposition to reform – and anger over the price of dwelling disaster – into mass social protest that will ultimately pressure the federal government to vary course.

Union leaders, who’re anticipated to announce extra strikes and protests within the night, mentioned Thursday was only the start.

Pension reform nonetheless must cross by parliament, the place Macron has misplaced his absolute majority however hopes to cross it with the backing of conservatives.

The corporate mentioned practice drivers, lecturers and refinery staff had been amongst those that left their jobs, in addition to practically 45% of staff at electrical energy big EDF. Radio France Inter performed music as an alternative of its common programmes, and bus drivers and civil servants additionally went off work.

Rail operator SNCF mentioned solely between considered one of three and 5 high-speed TGV traces had been working, with hardly any native or regional trains operating.

Site visitors is off

In Paris, some metro stations had been closed and site visitors was critically disrupted, with few trains operating.

On the busy Gare du Nord station, folks scrambled to catch the few trains nonetheless operating as workers in yellow vests helped weary passengers.

Restaurant employee Beverly Jahent, who missed work as a result of her practice was canceled, mentioned she agreed to go on strike even when she did not take part.

However not everybody understood that.

“It is all the time the identical (folks) on strike…and we now have to place up with that,” mentioned Virginie Pinto, an actual property employee, as she struggled to discover a metro to go to work.

A 2007 ban on random strikes and restrictions on strikes to make sure a minimal degree of public companies restricted unions’ capacity to dampen the reformist ambitions of governments.

The truth that working from house is rising in popularity now due to the pandemic might additionally have an effect.

The strike halted ferry crossings between Dover and Calais, a key sea route for commerce between Britain and the continent.

Seven out of 10 major lecturers have stopped working, their unions mentioned, and nearly as many in secondary colleges, though the Training Ministry gave a lot decrease numbers.

In Paris, college students surrounded a minimum of one highschool in assist of the strike.

Knowledge from EDF and grid operator RTE confirmed electrical energy manufacturing falling by round 10% of complete power provide, prompting France to extend imports.

Shipments blocked at TotalEnergies’ (TTEF.PA) Refineries in France, union and firm officers mentioned, however the firm mentioned a single strike wouldn’t disrupt refinery operations.

The influence on air site visitors was largely restricted to a discount of round 20% of flights at Orly, Paris’s second largest airport.

Extra reporting by Dominique Vidalon, Micaela Cabrera, Yiming Wu, Anthony Paun, Tassilo Hamel, Forrest Crelin, Juliette Jabekero, Geert de Klerk and Blandine Henault in Paris, Ingrid Melander in Excursions, Eric Gaillard in Cannes and St├ęphane Mahe in Saint-Nazaire, Marine Strauss in Brussels; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Enhancing by Nick McPhee

Our requirements: Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.

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