Quantcast
Connect with us

No let-up in French strikes as fresh turmoil hits weekend

Published

on

The most serious nationwide strike to hit France in years caused new weekend travel turmoil on Saturday, with unions warning the walkouts would last well into next week.

The challenge thrown to President Emmanuel Macron over his plans for radical pension reform has seen hundreds of thousands take to the streets and key transport services brought to a standstill.

ADVERTISEMENT

The strikes, which began on Thursday, have recalled the winter of 1995, when three weeks of huge stoppages forced a social policy U-turn by the then-government.

Unions have vowed a second series of mass demonstrations nationwide on Tuesday after big rallies on Thursday and there is expected to be little easing of the transport freezes over the coming days.

AFP / Philippe LOPEZ Most of the metro lines in Paris are shuttered

The strikes could prove to be the biggest domestic challenge yet for Macron, who came to power in 2017 on the back of promises to radically reform France and has sought a prominent place on the international stage as Europe’s number one statesman.

Macron was widely believed to have ridden out the challenge posed by the “yellow vests” whose weekly Saturday protests against inequality in France had shaken the government over the last year.

ADVERTISEMENT

But the yellow vests have also sought to utilise the momentum of the strike movement and are expected to hold protests across France this Saturday.

– Government stands firm –

With Macron seeking for now to rise above the fray, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe insisted that the government would not abandon the plan even if it was prepared to bring it in more gradually.

ADVERTISEMENT

AFP/File / Bertrand GUAY Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the government was prepared to ease in the plan more gradually

He said the government would work with trade unions to introduce a single points-based pension scheme that would require the French to “work a bit longer” and replace dozens of more advantageous plans currently enjoyed by public-sector workers.

ADVERTISEMENT

But the premier emphasised that the changes, which he said would be unveiled on Wednesday, were going to be introduced “progressively, without harshness”.

The SNCF rail operator has warned that disruption at the weekend will be at the same level as the last two days with just 10-15 percent of high-speed and regional trains running.

AFP/File / Zakaria ABDELKAFI The walkout is the latest test of Macron’s mettle

ADVERTISEMENT

The Paris metro will remain severely disrupted with nine lines entirely shut, five only partially and just the driverless 1 and 14 lines working normally.

Many cancellations are also expected on the international Eurostar and Thalys services.

Air travel, which has been less impacted by the strikes, was returning closer to normal with air traffic restrictions now dropped by civil aviation authorities.

– Museums, opera closed –

ADVERTISEMENT

Tourists in Paris may also face some disappointments: the world-famous Louvre Museum said it could open later Saturday with some rooms closed due to the strikes, while the landmark exhibition of painter El Greco at the Grand Palais was closed.

The Paris Opera has also cancelled its performances over the last days due to the strike.

AFP / Zakaria ABDELKAFI Unions say Macron’s proposal for a single pension system would force millions of people to work well beyond the official retirement age

Businesses also feared that the lack of transport would affect shopping activity on a key weekend for the consumer economy just two weeks before Christmas.

ADVERTISEMENT

The walkout is the latest test of Macron’s mettle after months of protests from teachers, hospital workers, police and firefighters, capping a year of social unrest triggered by the yellow vest movement.

Unions say Macron’s proposal for a single pension system would force millions of people in both the public and private sectors to work well beyond the official retirement age of 62.

At least 800,000 took part in rallies around the country on Thursday, according to the interior ministry — one of the biggest demonstrations of union strength in nearly a decade.

AFP / BULENT KILIC While most of the rallies Thursday were peaceful, police fired tear gas to disperse dozens of protesters

Another day of strikes and rallies has been called for Tuesday, a day after union leaders are to meet again with government officials over the pension reform.

ADVERTISEMENT

While most of the rallies Thursday were peaceful, police fired tear gas to disperse dozens of black-clad protesters smashing windows and throwing stones during the Paris march, with one construction trailer set on fire.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Wake Forest slammed for inadequate response to threatening emails labeled ‘white supremacist terrorism’

Published

on

Tensions remain high at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC after emails considered "white supremacist terrorism" threatened the school.

"Three months after a set of anonymous, threatening, racist, antisemitic and homophobic emails sent a wave of fear through the sociology department at Wake Forest University, the department chairman says he's still waiting for university leaders to announce a meaningful response," the Associated Press reported Saturday."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Economists warn Trump policies will result in lost jobs and lower wages for American workers

Published

on

The 20-year-old San Diego bakery Con Pane Rustic Breads & Cafe went out of business this month after an audit by US authorities found immigrants working there illegally.

In April, a small Nebraska town lost a potato processing plant, and the local revenue it generated, in the wake of an immigration raid on its facilities. A restaurant in New York appears to have suffered similar fate in August.

Farmers say they are planting less, turning to automation, eliminating some crops, leaving them to rot in the field or contemplating selling out of the business altogether -- all because they cannot find enough immigrant labor.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump supporter Steve Cortes loses it after Rick Wilson brings up war crimes prosecutions

Published

on

The spokesperson for the "official" pro-Trump SuperPAC was admonished twice by an MSNBC anchor on Saturday night during a segment on impeachment that quickly went off the rails.

MSNBC anchor Joy Reid was anchoring a Saturday night special titled, "the impeachment trial of Donald Trump."

Her panel included Rick Wilson, the author of the bestselling 2018 book Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever and Steve Cortes, the spokesperson for America First PAC.

Wilson explained why Republican senators refuse to stand up to Trump.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image