France: Intensified strikes and blockades against pension reform
For the sixth time in less than two months, a day of action is taking place in France against the reform proposing the postponement of the legal retirement age.
Fuel shipments blocked at the exit of the refineries, massively canceled trains, closed schools, renewable strikes, uncollected trash: the mobilization was strong Tuesday in France for the sixth day of action against a highly contested pension reform wanted by Emmanuel Macron.
In an attempt to bend the government and before possible renewals of the strike in the coming days, the unions are trying in unison to bring France to a halt on Tuesday. A new meeting of the intersyndicale is scheduled for the evening to decide on the follow-up to the movement.
The secretary general of the French Democratic Confederation of Labor (reformist), Laurent Berger, hailed a historic mobilization. His counterpart from the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), Philippe Martinez, assured by his side, before the departure of the Parisian procession, that it was going to be the strongest day of mobilization since the start of this conflict.
Since January 19, this is the sixth day of action against this pension reform and its postponement of the legal retirement age from 62 to 64, to which the French are, according to the polls, mostly hostile, judging it unfair, especially for women and for employees in arduous jobs.
In Clermont-Ferrand (center), Kevin Ferreira demonstrates for the first time, because he does not want to do two more years. At 30, this facade designer who works a lot with his arms isn't even sure he'll be 62. So 64, I can't even imagine.
In a bus depot in Paris, a dozen students mingle with the general assembly of drivers. It is important to prevent this reform from passing, says Youri Le Merour, 21, otherwise the French executive will try to pass anything on immigration or [ Universal national service], this mini-military service that has no place, he says.
Energy, transport, education, waste: many sectors were affected by the strikes.
Fuel shipments were blocked on Tuesday at the exit of all refineries in France, the CGT-Chimie union told AFP.
To the national railway company SNCF, 80% of trains were cancelled, with degraded or even interrupted international connections between France and Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The traffic is also very disrupted in the Paris metro where traffic is normal only on lines 1 and 14 (automated).
Protesters block a bridge in the city of Toulouse.
Does little current, river traffic on the Rhine was at a standstill due to the blockages of several locks.
In Lille (north), most buses were not running and at Marseille (south), the two metro lines and one out of three tram lines were closed.
In the air, the General Directorate of Civil Aviation has asked companies to reduce their flight schedules on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Three of the four LNG terminals in the France were shut down for seven days on Monday by the unions.
This day of mobilization translates Tuesday into an average rate of striking teachers of 32.71%, including 35.35% in primary and 30.09% in secondary (middle and high schools), according to the ministry, although below union figures. The Snuipp-FSU and Snes-FSU unions have for their part announced striker rates of at least 60% in the first and second degree.
In Paris, the three waste incinerators were inoperative and garbage collection was blocked in part of the capital.
Before the start of the demonstration in Marseille (south), the leader of La France insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, estimated that faced with the deadlock on the pension reform project, Emmanuel Macron must find a way out from above. , or a dissolution of the National Assembly, or a referendum.
The leader of La France insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, took part in the popular protests.
Emmanuel Macron plays an important part of his political credit on this flagship measure of his second five-year term, a symbol of its declared desire to reform, but which today crystallizes the grumbling of a part of the French against it.
France is one of the European countries where the legal retirement age is the lowest, without the pension systems being completely comparable. The government has chosen to raise it to respond to the financial deterioration of pension funds and the aging of the population.
The bill carrying out this reform, under discussion before the Senate, has already brought millions of French people to the streets and given rise to heated debates in the National Assembly. The government is counting on the adoption of the reform in the Senate by Sunday, and is considering a vote on March 16 in both chambers of Parliament.