Strikes over pension reform in France bring the country to a standstill


French schools, airports and trains will face heavy disruption on Tuesday for the sixth time this year, as unions galvanize people across the country to protest against government plans to raise the retirement age for most workers.

Paris is expected to bear the brunt of the protests, with most metro lines operating only at peak times, according to the city’s transport agency, RATP. The main education union FSU said on Sunday that 120 schools would close for the day and 60% of primary school teachers are said to be on strike in the French capital.

The French civil aviation authority, meanwhile, has asked airlines to reduce scheduled flights by 20% and 30% respectively at Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris. Air France said around 20% of short-haul flights would be canceled, but long-haul services would be maintained. The airline, however, warned that “last minute delays and cancellations cannot be ruled out”.

National rail operator SNCF said very few regional trains would operate and four out of five trains of the TGV, France’s high-speed intercity rail service, would be cancelled.

Unions and opposition parties are encouraging people to demonstrate in major cities across the country, hoping to “stop France”.

Philippe Martinez, general secretary of the CGT, France’s largest union, said in an interview with Sunday’s Journal du Dimanche that the unions were “moving into high gear” and he expected “that the mobilizations will continue and s ‘amplify until the government listens to the workers’. .โ€

France has seen a series of strikes this year as workers protest against pension reforms planned by President Emmanuel Macron. The reforms will gradually raise the age at which most French citizens can collect a state pension to 64, from 62 previously.

A record 1.3 million people took part in the January 19 protests, which brought the country to a standstill and closed the Eiffel Tower to visitors.

The government said that the pension legislation is needed to tackle a funding shortfall, but the reforms have angered workers at a time when the cost of living is rising.

The legislation is currently before French lawmakers, with a vote on the final version of the text expected later this month.

If there is no support from opposition lawmakers, the Macron government could turn to Article 49.3 of the French Constitution, a mechanism it has already used on several occasions to pass bills. budget-related legislation without submitting them to a parliamentary vote.


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