France Strikes Nationwide Against Pension Reform

PARIS (Reuters ) —

French workers on strike hold French CGT labour union flags during a demonstration against French government’s pension reform plan in Saint-Nazaire as part of a day of national strike and protests in France, Tuesday. (REUTERS/Stephane Mahe)

A second nationwide strike disrupted French electricity production, public transport and schools on Tuesday, in a backlash against the government’s plans to make people work longer before retirement.

Unions, which have scheduled protest rallies across France throughout the day, want to keep the pressure on the government and hope to repeat the large turnout for the first national day of protest on Jan. 19.

That day, more than a million people marched in opposition to pushing the retirement age to 64 from 62 and accelerating a planned delay in the age eligible for a full pension.

“This reform is unfair and brutal,” said Luc Farre, the secretary-general of the civil servants’ UNSA union. “Moving [the pension age] to 64 is going backwards, socially.”

Only about one in three high-speed TGV trains ran on Tuesday and even fewer local and regional trains, while the Paris metro was seriously disrupted.

Half of primary school teachers will walk off the job, their union said, while oil refinery staff and workers across other sectors, including public broadcasters, which played music instead of news programmes, also went strike.

French power supply was down by 4.4%, or 2.9 gigawatts, as workers at nuclear reactors and thermal plants joined the strike, data from utility group EDF showed.

TotalEnergies said there was no delivery of petroleum products from its French sites because of the strike, adding that petrol stations were fully supplied and that customers’ needs were met.

Opinion polls show most French people oppose the reform, but President Emmanuel Macron and his government intend to stand their ground. The reform is “vital” to ensure the pension system keeps working, Macron said on Monday.

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