PARIS (AP) — Roads blocked, oil refineries disrupted, planes grounded, trains halted — trade unions launch the toughest-ever counterattack to President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to raise the retirement age It is threatening to shut down the French economy this week, hoping it will.
The first action is scheduled for Monday, with truck drivers urged to block the main roads and interchanges in a slow move called Operation “Escargot”. planning an unrestricted strike against
The government is gearing up for the biggest turmoil on Tuesday, with strikes expected in multiple sectors and protests planned against the retirement bill in cities across France. The reform, which would raise the public pension age from her 62 to her 64 and require him to work 43 years to receive his full pension, is currently being debated in parliament.
Transport Minister Clément Beaune told local broadcaster France-3 on Sunday that “there will be a very strong impact” from the strike. “I know it’s going to be a real headache for a lot of people.”
Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt told the Franceinfo news channel on Monday that “expressing disagreements is legitimate, but it should not lead to a lockdown of a country that is dangerous for the economy”. .
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Officials encouraged people to work from home on Tuesday if possible.
The complex pension bill is a central component of President Macron and his efforts to keep the French economy globally competitive. The centrist, business-friendly government says the pension system needs to stay healthy as the population ages and the birth rate declines.
Opinion polls suggest the opposition includes a majority of French voters, who say the change threatens rights in France, which has been bitterly contested. Left-wing lawmakers say businesses and the wealthy should spend more to keep the system running.
It is currently being debated in the conservative-led Senate. The bill is set to be voted on by the end of this week in the upper house of parliament, where Republicans said they would vote to raise the retirement age, along with Macron’s centrist supporters.
France’s civil aviation authority has asked airlines to cancel 20% of flights at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport and 30% of flights at Orly airport on Tuesday, in addition to cancellations in other cities. Trains to Germany and Spain will stop on Tuesday, and trains to and from the UK are expected to drop by a third, according to the SNCF railway authority.
The far-left CGT union is also calling for strikes on Tuesday at factories that make Renault, Peugeot and Citroen cars, Airbus planes and other factories. The dockworkers’ union has threatened to block the port on Wednesday.
Laurent Berger, president of the more moderate CFDT union, called for a “very strong day of action” on Tuesday, involving “so many people in the streets”. He said more than 250 demonstrations will be organized throughout France. The unions will then hold a meeting to decide on next steps in mobilization, he added.
Unions have rallied some of France’s biggest protests in decades since the bill was introduced in January, but this week has been particularly challenging.
Women-focused protests and the impact of retirement reform on working mothers are scheduled for Wednesday, coinciding with International Women’s Day.
And on Thursday, a union representing undergraduates will mobilize young people to take to the streets to share their concerns about retirement rights.
The bill is likely to eventually get Senate approval, but unions hope this week’s strikes and protests will continue to pressure the government to make concessions.
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