Public transport services across France will be the focus of particular disruption on Tuesday as the latest round of nationwide protests against reforms to the country’s pension system take place.
The action will be the sixth wave of strikes to happen this year over President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the country’s retirement age from 62 to 64.
He has long championed the deeply unpopular proposals, having first put them forward before the pandemic began, saying they are necessary for the future health of the country’s pension system, and they have returned to the top of the political agenda this year.
“There will be very strong impacts,” warned Transport Minister Clement Beaune in a television interview, adding that the strike could be “one of the most difficult ones” for travelers since the start of the current dispute. “For many it will be a real hassle”, he said.
National rail network SNCF has said it expects just one in five of its high-speed trains to run on Tuesday, with almost all scheduled inter-city services canceled.
RATP, the public transport operator for the region surrounding Paris, said suburban services will also be badly hit, and some metro lines will only operate at peak times.
Philippe Martinez, head of the hardline CGT union, showed no sign of backing down. “We are moving up a gear,” he told French weekly newspaper Journal du Dimanche. “The ball is now in the president’s court. It is up to (Macron) to withdraw this reform.”
Air travel will also be affected, with France’s DGAC aviation authority having requested that airlines reduce flights at the main airports, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly.
Energy sector workers began their walkout last Friday, and Sébastien Ménesplier, secretary-general of the CGT Energie union confederation, warned that his members’ action would last “at the minimum until the 7th, and at the maximum until we win.
“If Emmanuel Macron doesn’t want France to come to a standstill and a dark week for the energy industry, it would be better for him to withdraw his reforms,” he added.
Other groups of workers, including teachers and the petro-chemical sector, are also expected to take part in the action.
For the government, Minister of Public Action and Accounts Gabriel Attal said that the action could hit the workers harder than they would hit the wider economy, and pleaded with unions to act “responsibly”.
By China Daily Global