French protesters keep up fight against pension plan in new day of strikes
French train and metro drivers, oil refinery workers, garbage collectors and others staged further strikes on Wednesday against President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age to 64 as part of an ongoing parliamentary debate. Government pressure.
New protests against women – and the impact of retirement reform on working mothers – are expected to coincide with International Women’s Day on Wednesday. Feminists believe pension reform is unfair to women, not least because they say it will further deepen the gender inequality they face in their careers.
The ongoing strikes and protest actions come after more than a million demonstrators marched in towns and cities across France on Tuesday in what unions saw as the biggest show of strength against planned changes since the movement began in January.
The unions demanded that the reforms be reversed. The bill is being debated in the Senate this week.
Train traffic and the Paris Metro remained severely disrupted Wednesday morning.
The SNCF rail authority said only a third of high-speed trains were expected to circulate across the country. Trains to Spain have stopped and some cancellations have affected trains to and from the UK and Belgium.
One in five flights at Paris-Charles de Gaulle and about a third at Orly were cancelled.
According to the CGT union, oil shipments in the country were halted for the second day in a row due to refinery strikes at TotalEnergies and Esso ExxonMobil.
Garbage collectors in Paris also decided to continue their strike on Wednesday.
Striking workers also blocked the ports of the western cities of Rouen and Le Havre.
Macron has vowed to press ahead with the bill, which he sees as key to his pro-business economic policy.
The reforms raised the minimum pension age from 62 to 64 and required 43 years of work to receive a full pension, among other measures. The government argues that the system is expected to slip into deficit within a decade as France’s population ages and life expectancy rises.
Leftwing lawmakers say corporations and the rich should fund the pension system more.
Unions have called for new nationwide demonstrations on Saturday.
On Thursday, youth groups representing students not yet in the workforce were seeking to mobilize young people to take to the streets to voice concerns about retirement rights.
While the measure is likely to win eventual Senate approval, unions hope the strikes and protests will force the government to make concessions as the bill continues through a complex legislative process.