Paris, Jan 31 (EFE).- France was on Tuesday gripped by fresh strikes and protests against government plans to reform the country’s pension system.
Workers in the rail, energy and education sectors downed tools in a second day of widespread industrial action this month against the pension proposals slated by the government of president Emmanuel Macron, who is looking to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 and the minimum tax contribution period from 42 to 43 years.
“The working world says it loud and clear, in the biggest protest in 25 years, that it does not want to raise the minimum retirement age,” Laurent Berger, head of the CFDT union, told Efe.
Organizers said half a million people took part in Tuesday’s protests compared to the 400,000 who took to the streets 12 days ago in a first day of strike action.
Unions want the strikes to be reminiscent of those in 1995, when social pressure prompted the conservative government of Jacques Chirac to pull the plug on pension reforms.
During a parliamentary session Tuesday, labor minister Olivier Dussopt defended the government’s plans amid criticism from left and right-wing parties.
The government has argued that it needs to bring its pension age in line with the European Union, given it remains relatively low compared to other member states.
But that stance has been rejected by unions.
“When we have worked for all of our lives, our aim is to live on the pension and for longer,” Philippe Martinez, leader of the CGT, said.EFE