Second nationwide strike in France against pension reform


Unions, who have planned protest marches across France today, want pressure on the government to be kept up

France’s second nationwide strike against government plans to raise the retirement age caused power outages, public transport problems and school closures.

The unions, which have planned protest marches across France today, want to keep up the pressure on the government and hope to see a repeat of the large turnout in the first nationwide day of mobilization on January 19.

On that day, over a million people marched against raising the retirement age to 64 from 62 and accelerating the extension of contributions to full retirement.

“This reform is unfair and cruel,” said Lick Farr, general secretary of civil servants union UNSA. “Raising (the retirement age) to 64 is regressive, socially.”

Only about one in three high-speed TGV trains were running today, and even fewer local and regional trains, while serious problems arose in the Paris metro.

Half of primary school teachers will go on strike, according to their union, while workers in refineries and other industries, such as public broadcasters, which today broadcast music instead of their usual schedule, are also taking part in the strike.

Electricity supply was down 4.4%, or 2.9GW, as workers at nuclear reactors and thermal power plants also went on strike, according to data from utility group EDF.

According to opinion polls, most French people oppose the reform, but President Emmanuel Macron and his government intend to stick to their position. The reform is “vital” to ensure the pension system continues to work, Macron said yesterday.

Raising the retirement age by two years and extending the period for paying pension contributions would yield an additional €17.7 billion in annual contributions, according to Labor Ministry estimates.

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