France braces for more strikes against divisive pension reform

France braces for more strikes against divisive pension reform
Strikes against the pension refom on 19 January 2023 in France. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Labour union strikes in France over the government's pension reform plans will result in severe disruption to the public transport system on Tuesday, the transport minister and public transport authorities announced on Sunday.

"It will be a very difficult day for public transport... We expect major disruptions," Transport Minister Clement Beaune said on LCI TV.

Unions have organised a nationwide day of strikes and hope for a similar turn-out to those on 19 January, in which over a million people took to the streets against the reform. Strikes then interrupted trains and limited power generation.

Unions are hoping for a show of public support against the proposals on pension reform, particularly raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Yet Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on Sunday held her ground, saying that raising the retirement age to 64 is "no longer negotiable" during an interview with France Info. The government plans to increase the retirement age by three months from September, until 2030. In this way it will increase the time employees spend making security contributions.

Unions hold strong

Unions are consolidating their efforts against the reform and have promised to continue demonstrations until the government drops the proposal. A poll from BFMTV showed that 59% of the population was against the reform.

Over 200 demonstrations have been planned across France on Tuesday. In Paris, the march against the reform will finish at Invalides close to the National Assembly.

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Over 7,000 amendments to the bill have been put forward – mostly by the left – to drag out the debate. Right-leaning parties are aware that their vote is key for the government to pass the reform.

Disruptions are expected to hit transport operator SNCF rail network as well as the RATP metro in the Île-de-France region surrounding the capital.

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