Saturday, June 22, 2024

Retirement Age Strike Hits Schools, Trains In France

A nationwide strike is under way in France in a second wave of protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Eight big unions are taking part in the strike, which is disrupting schools, public transport and oil refineries.

Protests are taking place across France, after a first day of action attracted more than a million people.

The unions said half the country’s teachers had joined the strike.

“The Macron government is pushing ahead with its pension age reforms in the face of opinion polls that suggest two-thirds of voters are opposed to the changes, which begin their passage through National Assembly next week.”

Without a ‘majority’ in parliament, the government will have to rely on the right-wing Republicans for support as much as the ruling parties’ own MPs.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon said France was at a crucial point and predicted an even greater number of protesters than on the first day of action on 19 January. Street protests are expected in “at least 200 towns and cities and a reported 11,000 police have been deployed to cover the demonstrations.”

Ahead of the main protest in Paris, big turn-outs were reported in Toulouse, Marseille and Nice in the south, and Saint Nazaire and Nantes in the west.

There was severe disruption to transport, with one in three high-speed trains running and only two driverless metro lines operating normally in Paris. Large crowds were reported on one of the main overground lines in the capital.

High school students took part in the protests on Tuesday in support of the strikers.

The CGT union said at least three-quarters of workers had walked out at the big TotalEnergies oil refineries and fuel depots. Power plants reported reduced production after workers went on strike at the main electricity company EDF

One of the main teachers’ unions said some 55% of secondary school teachers had walked out. High school pupils staged protests outside some schools and students said they would occupy Sciences Po university in Paris in support of the strikers.

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