France hit by a new wave of strikes against Macron’s pension reform

France hit by a new wave of strikes against Macron's pension reform
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  • The reform would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 years
  • Schools, transport networks, deliveries from affected refineries
  • Macron: Vital reform to guarantee the viability of the pension system

PARIS, Jan 31 (Reuters) – Striking workers disrupted deliveries from French refineries, public transport and schools on Tuesday in a second day of nationwide protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to make people work longer before retiring.

Huge crowds marched through cities across France to denounce a reform that raises the retirement age by two years to 64 and tests Macron’s ability to push for change now that he has lost his working-class majority in parliament.

On rail networks, only one in three high-speed TGV trains operated, let alone commuter and regional trains. Paris metro services were left in disarray.

Marching behind banners reading “No to reform” or “We won’t give up,” many said they would take to the streets as many times as it took for the government to back down.

“We won’t drive until we’re 64!” said bus driver Isabelle Texier at a protest in Saint-Nazaire, on the Atlantic coast.

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“For the president it is easy. He sits in a chair…, he can work until he is 70 years old, even,” he said. “We can’t ask roofers to work until 64, it’s not possible.”

After January On February 19, when more than a million people took to the streets on the first day of a national strike, unions said initial data from protests across the country showed increased turnout.

“It’s better than 19… It’s a real message sent to the government, saying we don’t want 64,” Laurent Berger, who heads the CFDT, France’s biggest union, said before the march in Paris.

Opinion polls show a substantial majority of the French oppose the reform, but Macron intends to stand his ground. The reform is “vital” to guarantee the viability of the pension system, he said on Monday.

Some felt resigned amid the bargaining between Macron’s ruling alliance and conservative opponents who are more open to pension reform than the left.

“There is no point in going on strike. This bill will pass anyway,” said Matthieu Jacquot, 34, who works in the luxury sector.


For the unions, which are likely to announce more labor actions later in the day, the challenge will be to sustain the strikes at a time when high inflation is eroding wages.

Although the number of protests appeared to be increasing, some early data showed that turnout for the strike decreased on Tuesday from January 1. 19

A union source said around 36.5% of workers at rail operator SNCF were on strike at midday, down almost 10% from January 1. 19, even if the disruption to train traffic was largely similar.

EDF Public Services Group (EDF.PA) it said that 40.3% of workers were on strike, compared to 44.5%.

Unions and companies sometimes disagreed on whether this strike was more or less successful than the previous one. For TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA)fewer workers in your refineries There were demolished tools, but the CGT said that there were more.


Locally, some announced unauthorized government-sanctioned “Robin Hood” operations. In the southwestern area of ​​Lot-et-Garonne, the local CGT union branch cut power to several speed cameras and disabled smart power meters.

“When there is such massive opposition, it would be dangerous for the government not to listen,” said Mylene Jacquot, secretary general of the CFDT civil servants’ branch.

the pension system Reform it would generate an additional 17.7 billion euros (19.18 billion dollars) in annual contributions to pensions, according to estimates by the Ministry of Labor. Unions say there are other ways to boost revenue, such as taxing the super-rich or asking well-to-do employers or retirees to contribute more.

“This reform is unfair and brutal,” said Luc Farre, general secretary of the civil servants’ union UNSA.

french power supply it fell by about 5% or 3.3 gigawatts (GW) as workers at nuclear reactors and thermal plants joined the strike, EDF data showed.

TotalEnergies said deliveries of petroleum products from its facilities in France have stopped, but customer needs have been met.

The government made some concessions when drafting the legislation. Macron originally wanted the retirement age to be set at 65, while the government also promises a minimum pension of 1,200 euros a month.

Additional reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, Forrest Crellin, Benjamin Mallet, Stephane Mahe, Benoit Van Overstraeten, Leigh Thomas, Michel Rose, Bertrand Boucey; Written by Ingrid Melander and Richard Lough; Edited by Janet Lawrence and Mark Heinrich

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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