France hit by new wave of strikes in opposition to Macron’s pension reform

  • Reform would increase retirement age to 64
  • Faculties, transport networks, refinery deliveries hit
  • Macron: Reform important to make sure viability of pension system

SAINT-NAZAIRE, France, Jan 31 (Reuters) – Placing staff disrupted French refinery deliveries, public transport and colleges on Tuesday in a second day of nationwide protests over President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to make folks work longer earlier than retirement.

Crowds marched via cities throughout France to denounce a reform that raises the retirement age by two years to 64 and which is a check of Macron’s means to push via change now that he has misplaced his working majority in parliament.

On the rail networks, just one in each three high-speed TGV trains had been working and even fewer native and regional trains. Providers on the Paris metro had been thrown into disarray.

Buoyed by their success earlier within the month when greater than 1,000,000 folks took to the streets, commerce unions which have been battling to keep up their energy and affect urged the general public to turnout en masse.

“We can’t drive till we’re 64!” bus driver Isabelle Texier mentioned at a protest in Saint-Nazaire on the Atlantic coast, including that many careers concerned robust working situations.

Others felt resigned forward of seemingly bargaining between Macron’s ruling alliance and conservative opponents who’re extra open to pension reform than the left.

“There isn’t any level in happening strike. This invoice will likely be adopted in any case,” mentioned 34-year-old Matthieu Jacquot, who works within the luxurious sector.

Unions mentioned half of main college lecturers had walked off the job. TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA) mentioned 55% of its staff on morning shifts at its refineries had downed instruments, a decrease quantity than on Jan. 19. The hard-left CGT union mentioned the determine was inaccurate.

For unions, the problem will likely be sustaining a strike motion at a time when excessive inflation is eroding salaries.

At a neighborhood stage, some introduced “Robin Hood” operations unauthorised by the federal government. Within the southwestern Lot-et-Garonne space, the native CGT commerce union department lower energy to a number of velocity cameras and disabled sensible energy meters.

“When there may be such an enormous opposition, it could be harmful for the federal government to not hear,” mentioned Mylene Jacquot, secretary basic of the CFDT union’s civil servants department.

Opinion polls present a considerable majority of the French oppose the reform, however Macron intends to face his floor. The reform was “important” to make sure the viability of the pension system, he mentioned on Monday.

A road march in Paris takes place later within the day.


The pension system reform would yield a further 17.7 billion euros ($19.18 billion) in annual pension contributions, in line with Labour Ministry estimates.

Unions say there are different methods to lift income, corresponding to taxing the tremendous wealthy or asking employers or well-off pensioners to contribute extra.

“This reform is unfair and brutal,” mentioned Luc Farre, the secretary basic of the civil servants’ UNSA union. “Transferring (the pension age) to 64 goes backwards, socially.”

French energy provide was down by 4.5% or 3 gigawatts (GW), as staff at nuclear reactors and thermal crops joined the strike, knowledge from utility group EDF (EDF.PA) confirmed.

TotalEnergies mentioned deliveries of petroleum merchandise from its French websites had been halted due to the strike, however that clients’ wants had been met.

The federal government made some concessions whereas drafting the laws. Macron had initially wished the retirement age to be set at 65, whereas the federal government can also be promising a minimal pension of 1,200 euros a month.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has mentioned the 64 threshold is “non-negotiable”, however the authorities is exploring methods to offset among the affect, significantly on girls.

Arduous-left opposition determine Jean-Luc Melenchon, a vocal critic of the reform, mentioned parliament would on Monday debate a movement calling for a referendum on the matter.

“The French usually are not silly,” he mentioned at a march in Marseille. “If this reform is significant, it needs to be doable to persuade the folks.”

Reporting by Forrest Crellin, Benjamin Mallet, Sudip Kar-Gupta, Leigh Thomas, Blandine Henault, Michel Rose, Dominique Vidalon, Benoit Van Overstraeten; Writing by Ingrid Melander and Richard Lough; Modifying by Janet Lawrence

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.

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