Strikers block refineries in France over pension reforms
Paris, Mar 7 (EFE).- French strikers blocked all the country’s fuel refineries and numerous busy roads on Tuesday over the government’s controversial pension reforms that would see the age of retirement raised from 62 to 64.
Some 320 demonstrations have been organized across France and police are expecting between 1.1 and 1.4 million people to take part.
“The objective is for the government to withdraw its reform project,” the head of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) union, Philippe Martínez, said on the France Info radio station.
The union chief added that on the sixth day of industrial action the protest had entered “a new phase” set to bring the country to a standstill.
Martínez explained that disruptions in transport, garbage collection and the energy sector should be expected as well as “strikes in the private sector.”
When asked how long the industrial action would go on for, the union head said this was not for him to decide but for the workers of each company to agree on.
He added that the government was responsible for the strikes after it ignored “91% of workers” who had already rejected the bill.
So far, the strikes are being felt in the public transport sector with France’s national rail service (SNCF) forced to cancel 80% of high-speed train journeys as well as most other conventional long-distance train routes.
There is no service on the Paris-Barcelona train line or on routes linking France and Germany, with just a reduced service on connections to Switzerland and only one return train to Italy.
Around two thirds of Eurostar trains to and from London and Thalys trains from Paris to Brussels are operating.
In the Paris region there is also a reduced train service.
The capital’s metro system only has two automatic lines, 1 and 14, running.
Around 20% of flights at Charles de Gaulle airport and 30% at the other airports in Paris, as well as those at Beauvais, Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Nantes, Marseille, Montpellier, Nice and Toulouse are taking off.
President Emmanuel Macron made pension reforms a key element of his electoral campaign and although he did not succeed in making the changes during his first term, the bill is now going through parliament.
The new pension plans will raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030.
Reforms also include increasing the minimum state pension to 1,200 euros a month to those who have paid the required contributions over 43 years. EFE