FRANCE: On Tuesday, more than 1.2 million demonstrators took to the streets of France in a demonstration against President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to raise the retirement age to 64, as rolling strikes by refinery and train workers and increased union activity.
Meanwhile, trade groups announced a ‘national day’ of strikes and protests for the sixth time since the year’s beginning. Authorities and local news outlets said that many protests since mid-January drew bigger crowds than the ones before, including one in Marseille, which is one of France’s biggest cities.
“The idea is to bring France to a standstill,” stated Fabrice Michaud of the railway workers’ branch of the CGT trade union.
The rail unions asked for rolling, indefinite strikes, which could affect all trains, including the Eurostar, both in and out of the country. Truck drivers and bin collectors joined the fight.
39% of SNCF employees were in protest, according to a union source who spoke to Agence France-Presse.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, air traffic controllers went on strike, which affected local buses, subway trains, and airlines. Up to 30% of flights had to be canceled because of the strike. As teachers went on a one-day strike, about 24% of public sector employees ceased going to work, and many schools were closed. On Monday night, some students, including those at Rennes 2 University in Brittany, started blocking faculty members.
Macron wants to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 and make it take more years of work to get a full pension. This is being discussed in the French senate.
In June’s parliamentary elections, the far right and far left won, and Macron’s group, which was in the middle, did not win an absolute majority. This has hurt him badly at home.
The right-wing Les Républicains must support pension reform because the government lacks a majority, but their senators and lawmakers are pushing for adjustments.
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