Labor & Workforce

France braces for strikes, protests over pension reforms

Paris, Jan 15 (EFE).- France is braced for a series of strikes and widespread protests slated in response to the government’s pension reforms, which have been rejected by trade unions as well as political parties on the left and far right.

Industrial action is planned for Thursday when public sector civil servants, national rail workers, Paris transport workers, teachers, police and prisoner staff stage a walkout. In the private sector, workers from the energy sector, flight attendants and others are due to down tools.

“The National Assembly debate will be guided by the mobilization and the strikes,” Philippe Martinez, the secretary-general of the powerful CGT union, warned on Sunday during an interview on France 3.

The objective of the unions is to bring the country to a halt on a similar scale to the massive strikes of 1995 against the pension plans for former prime minister Alain Juppé, who governed under conservative president Jacques Chirac.

During those strikes, France lost the equivalent of five million working days — four million in the public sector and one in the private sector.

The government withdrew its plans three days after huge protests across the nation.

France’s employment minister Olivier Dussopt warned Sunday that while it was legitimate for unions to call strike action, they should not paralyze the country.

The government’s pension proposals would see the retirement age rise from 62 to 64 from 2030. The changes would also mean people will have to work 43 years instead of 42 to access a full pension, a proposal that has been brought forward to 2027 from 2035.

In an interview with France Inter, Dussopt reiterated that proposals account for those who begin their careers at a younger age, meaning someone who starts paying taxes and working at 18 will still be able to retire at 60.

But government assurances seem to have done little to budge public opinion with some 68% of French citizens opposing the proposal, according to an Ifop survey in the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday.

That number stands at 71% among respondents who are young, working class or unemployed.

The government, nonetheless, should have the power to vote for the reforms through parliament thanks to the support of the conservative Republican party. EFE


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