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For the sixth time, they are protesting a general strike against pension reform in France

For the sixth time, they are protesting a general strike against pension reform in France

In France, for the sixth time, public sector employees are protesting with a nationwide work stoppage and marching in the streets on Tuesday against the government’s plan to reform the pension system, which President Emmanuel Macron announced as one of the main measures of his term. Participation exceeded previous movements: according to the police, 1.28 million people demonstrated, according to the CGT trade union, 3.5 million people demonstrated in more than two hundred cities.

For more than a month, unions have been saying that the country should prepare for a complete lockdown for at least 24 hours, which they want to achieve through indefinite strikes and mass demonstrations in strategic sectors in order to push the government to withdraw reform. The proposal according to which the retirement age will be raised from the current 62 years to 64 years.

Unions will decide to continue the strike in the evening. According to the CGT union, all the country’s oil refineries have been occupied by workers, so fuel deliveries in the country have stopped.

The state railway company (SNCF) has canceled 80 percent of trains, and there are disruptions to international traffic to Germany, Spain and the UK.

On the Paris metro, trips are erratic, and similar reports have been received from major cities in the countryside. The Directorate of Civil Aviation called on airlines to reduce the number of their flights on Tuesday and Wednesday.

According to the Ministry of Education, 32.71 percent of the teachers did not attend their classes on Tuesday, and the unions know that 60 percent of the teachers participated in the strike. In Paris, waste handlers stopped and waste haulers stopped on Tuesday.

Laurent Berger, general secretary of the generally pro-reform trade union CFDT, welcomed the “historic mobilization”, which he said had not appeared in the country in four decades, while Philippe Martinez, the leader of the more radical CGT, sees the afternoon demonstration in Paris as the largest Against pension reform since the beginning of the movement.

In the mass events that accompanied the previous days of protest, more than a million people took to the streets across the country, and the authorities expect between 1.1 and 1.4 million demonstrators in more than two hundred cities on Tuesday.

Debate on the pension reform bill ended without a vote more than two weeks ago in the National Assembly, and debate ends in the Senate on Friday, before the joint committee of both houses meets in two weeks to adopt the final text.

The aim of the reform is to balance the pension system by 2030, after which, according to the government, further changes may be necessary. Over the past three decades, French governments have launched several major pension reforms in response to an aging society and to reduce deficits in pension funds, each accompanied by major protest movements.

The head of state put pension reform into perspective in his election campaign before his first term, in 2017, and then announced it as the main measure of his second term, but since he does not have the parliamentary majority needed to pass the law. A bill, a sustained protest movement that could shake the government’s position.

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