- Reform raises retirement age from 62 to 64
- Schools, transportation networks and refinery deliveries affected
- Macron: reforms essential to ensure the survival of the pension system
PARIS (Reuters) – Striking workers at refineries on Tuesday, the second day of nationwide protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to lengthen working hours until retirement delivery, public transportation, and schools.
Massive crowds march through cities across France to denounce reforms that would raise the retirement age by two years to 64, testing President Macron’s ability to push for change now that he has lost a majority of seats in parliament .
The rail network operated only a third of the high-speed TGV trains, and even fewer local and regional trains. The Paris metro service has been thrown into chaos.
Marching behind banners reading “no to reform” or “we won’t give up,” many said they would take to the streets as long as it took for the government to back down.
“We won’t drive until we’re 64!” bus driver Isabelle Texier said at a protest rally in Saint-Nazaire on the Atlantic coast.
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“It’s easy for the president. He’s sitting in a chair… he can work until he’s 70,” she said. “You can’t claim functionality up to 64 roof layers. That’s impossible.”
After more than a million people took to the streets on the first day of nationwide strikes since Jan. 19, unions said initial data from protests across the country showed greater turnout.
“Better than the 19th…a real message to the government that we don’t want ’64,” said Laurent Berger, who heads the CFDT, France’s largest trade union, ahead of the march in Paris.
Opinion polls show a majority of French people are against the reform, but President Macron intends to stand his ground. ‘, he said on Monday.
Some felt resigned amid negotiations between Mr Macron’s ruling coalition and his conservative opponents who were more positive about pension reform than the left.
“There is no point in going on strike. The bill will be passed anyway,” said Mathieu Jaco, 34, who works in the luxury goods industry.
Lower Strike Take Up
The challenge for unions, which are likely to announce more industrial action later in the day, is sustaining the strike at a time when high inflation is eroding salaries.
Although the number of protests appeared to be on the rise, some early data indicated that participation in strikes had declined from Jan. 19 to Tuesday.
Some 36.5% of workers at SNCF’s rail operators were on strike by noon, down nearly 10% from 19 January, union sources said.
Utility Group EDF (EDF PA) 40.3% of workers said they were on strike, down from 44.5%.
Unions and businesses sometimes disagreed over whether this strike was more or less successful than previous strikes.About Total Energies (TTEF.PA)fewer workers Refinery had the tool down, but CGT says there are others.
At the local level, some announced Operation Robin Hood, which was not sanctioned by the government. In the southwestern Lot-et-Garonne region, his local CGT trade union chapter has turned off multiple automatic speed control machines and disabled Smart his power meter.
Milene Jacquot, executive director of the CFDT’s civil service branch, said, “When there is opposition of this magnitude, it is dangerous for the government not to listen.”
pension system reform The Ministry of Labor estimates that annual pension contributions will increase by another €17.7 billion ($19.18 billion). Unions say there are other ways to raise revenue, such as taxing the ultra-rich and asking employers and wealthy pensioners to donate more.
“This reform is unfair and brutal,” said Luc Farre, executive director of the UNSA union of civil servants.
french power Electricity output fell by about 5%, or 3.3 gigawatts (GW), as workers at nuclear reactors and thermal power plants went on strike, EDF data shows.
Total Energies said deliveries of petroleum products from its French site had been suspended, but customers’ needs were being met.
The government made some concessions during the drafting of the bill. Macron initially wanted to set his retirement age at 65, but the government has also promised a minimum pension of €1,200 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.Editing by Janet Lawrence and Marc Heinrich
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