A man walks past the Saint Lazare train station in Paris during a strike against pension reforms in France March 7, 2023.
Paris – A day full of strikes, demonstrations began in France and roadblocks – the aim is to increase pressure on the government over its proposed pension reform, which includes moving the retirement age from 62 to 64. Trade unionists want to “stop” life in the country and are talking about the start of a new phase of protests that will last about a month and a half. The CGT union announced this morning that workers are blocking fuel deliveries at all French refineries today.
During today's sixth “mobilization” against the pension reform, significant problems are also expected in public transport, Paris Charles de Gaulle airport has canceled a fifth of connections, Orly airport almost a third. The strike also involves teachers, garbage collectors or workers in the energy sector, the AP agency writes. The newspaper Le Monde reported that the new edition of the regional newspapers La Provence and Nice-Matin did not appear on newsstands in the south-east of France this morning due to a strike at the printers.
“It's the first day of a new phase, with a new slogan: to stop the country,” said the head of the CGT union, Philippe Martinez, who is the main face of the protests. According to him, the strikes will continue after today. According to AP, the main issue is the indefinite outages at the state railway carrier SNCF, which also accompanied Macron's first attempt to reform the pension system before the covid-19 pandemic.
Over 300 rallies have been planned across France today, with security forces expecting more than a million people to attend. The second day of protests on January 31 brought the highest turnout so far, when according to the police 1.27 million people took to the streets, according to the unions almost three million.
The government's pension reform plan, which is based on President Emmanuel Macron's long-term policy , is “very unpopular”, according to AFP. Polls indicate that the majority of French people do not agree with it and consider the reform unfair.
The government wants to increase the threshold for retirement by two years by the end of the decade, and is also pushing for a faster extension of the time during which it is necessary to contribute to of the pension system for entitlement to a full pension. In addition to demonstrations and strikes, he also faces opposition in parliament, where Macron's bloc does not have a majority and relies on the support of like-minded Republicans. At the same time, it is promoting the proposal in a non-standard procedure, which allows it to start implementing the measures after a certain period even without the consent of the parliament.
The trade unions demand the complete withdrawal of the proposal, but Macron and the government supported by him insist that the reform is necessary for the long-term financial sustainability of the pension system.