France brought to a standstill by latest round of anti-pension reform protests

FRANCE came to a standstill today as protesters across the country demonstrated against a proposed increase in the retirement age to 64 during the latest round of strikes.

The unions described the protests as their biggest show of force against President Emmanuel Macron’s government’s deeply unpopular proposal.

According to the AEF news agency, 63 percent of the French reject the government’s proposal.

Refuse collectors, utility workers, train drivers and others today took action to express their anger at the attack on their pension rights.

More than 250 protests took place across France.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Paris, and massive demonstrations were also reported in other major cities, including Marseille, Nice, Nantes and Lyon.

The general secretary of the French Democratic Confederation, Laurent Berger, said the number of protesters was the largest nationwide since the protest movement began in January.

Philippe Martinez, leader of the left-wing General Confederation of Labor (CGT), told FranceInfo: “The aim is for the government to withdraw its proposed reform. Point.”

Some unions have called indefinite strikes in sectors such as refineries, oil depots and transportation.

Workers at Paris Gare de Nord train station have already voted to continue the strike on Wednesday.

The CGT reported that all oil supplies in France were halted by strikes at the TotalEnergies, Esso-ExxonMobil and Petroineos refineries.

Truck drivers have sporadically blocked major highways in slow-moving actions.

In Paris, garbage collectors have started an indefinite strike, blocking access to an incinerator in Ivry-sur-Seine, near Paris, the largest incinerator in Europe.

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A fifth of flights were canceled at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and about a third of flights at Orly airport were cancelled.

Trains to Germany and Spain came to a standstill and trains to and from the UK and Belgium were reduced by a third.

Most high-speed and regional trains have also been discontinued.

Public transport and other services have been disrupted in most French cities. In Paris, the Eiffel Tower was closed, as was the Palace of Versailles west of the capital.

Paris train driver Xavier Bregail said: “We used to hold strong demonstrations, but it’s time to take the movement a step further.”

Mr Bregail expressed hope that the protests would grow into a broader movement against economic injustice.

France’s eight largest trade union confederations and five youth organizations were due to meet last night to decide their next steps to defend pension rights.


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