French Workers Cut Power to World’s Largest Food Market in Pension Protest

PARIS (Reuters) -
Opposition to French President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform has escalated with a deliberate power outage to Paris’ giant fresh food market. (Reuters/Johanna Geron)

French energy workers protesting against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform cut power on Tuesday to the world’s largest wholesale fresh food market, Rungis near Paris, the hardleft CGT union’s energy branch said.

A spokeswoman for Rungis International Market said emergency power kicked in when the outage began at 5:30 am (local time) and that there was no disruption to trade. The power cut lasted 90 minutes.

“The power source to Rungis is cut this morning,” the local CGT energy branch announced via the media.

The power outage also halted services on the Orlyval rail shuttle serving Orly, the French capital’s second busiest airport.

The deliberate sabotage of power supplies underlines the growing determination of France’s left-wing unions to resort to wildcat action, after a wave of strikes and street protests since early December failed to force Macron to back down on his overhaul of the pension system.

Macron wants to streamline France’s Byzantine pension system and provide incentives for people to stay in work longer to pay for some of the most generous retirement benefits in the world.

The proposed reform would be the biggest overhaul of the system since World War II and is central to the president’s drive to make the labor force more flexible and more competitive globally. Hardline unions oppose it and say workers will have to work longer to secure a full pension.

The Rungis market covers 234 hectares and generates revenues of 9 billion euros a year.