Friday, May 24, 2024

No traffic, less electricity. France pressures Macron on pensions with a strike

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Alan Binder
Alan Binder
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“This reform is unfair and brutal,” said Luc Farr, Secretary-General of the United Nations. “Raising the retirement age to 64 is a step backward from a social point of view,” he added.

The authorities sent 11,000 police into the streets, including 4,000 in Paris, to monitor order during the planned marches. In some cities, they start already at 10 am.

For example, according to unions, more than 20,000 people gathered in Nice, similar to the first event of the year on January 19. However, the province estimated that 7.5 thousand people participated at that time. In Marseille, the unions participating on Tuesday are estimated at 205,000 people, which is 60,000 more than last time.

In Nantes, police arrested one person after the scuffle, according to Le Figaro’s correspondent from the scene, adding that tensions between security forces and protesters remain high. On the other hand, the protests are ending in some smaller cities. Less than 14,000 people demonstrated in Rouen, over 12,000 in Le Havre and over 4,000 in Dieppe.

And the unions, which have planned protest demonstrations across France, want to maintain pressure on the government. They also hope to repeat the huge turnout from the first strike on January 19, in which more than a million people participated. On Tuesday, only about one in three high-speed TGV trains and fewer local and regional trains were running, and the Paris metro also faces serious restrictions.

At the Concorde metro station in central Paris, legal assistant Catherine is standing by. She says she doesn’t mind waiting for the train, or rather, walking. “I support them,” she said. “I’ll be turning 60 soon, so I’m really not looking forward to working out another two years.”

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However, not everyone agrees with it. “There is no point in going on strike. The law will be passed anyway,” says Mathieu Jacot, 34, who works in the luxury sector.

About half of the primary school teachers are participating in the strike. For example, the campus of Sciences Po was closed. Le Figaro wrote that three hundred gymnasiums were on strike alert, while two hundred did not open in the morning. “It is our future. I will graduate from the grammar school in a year, and this reform will only increase the insecurity of the students. In order to win, we must act now and strengthen relations with the workers,” says Ava from the Racine High School in Paris.

Oil refinery workers and workers in other industries were also on strike, including public television stations broadcasting music rather than news programmes.

A protest in Grenoble is like a nightclub:

Data from the French Electricity Company showed that electricity supplies fell 4.4 percent, or 2.9 gigawatts, as workers at nuclear reactors and thermal power plants joined the strike.

Total Energy, in which 75 to 100 percent of the people are on strike, said it had not delivered oil products on Tuesday but assured the French that petrol stations were fully stocked and customers’ needs were being met.

Left-wing politician Jean-Luc Melenchon predicted a “historic day” of protests and Macron’s defeat as crowds of demonstrators began marching in cities and towns outside Paris – ahead of a large demonstration planned for later in the French capital. “It is not often that we see such mass mobilization. It is a form of civil rebellion,” Melenchon said.

Opinion polls show that the majority of French oppose the proposal to reform the pension system. More than 860,000 people have also signed the related petition on the site Change.org. President Emmanuel Macron and his government insist on this. According to Macron, it is “crucial” to ensure the continued functioning of the pension system.

The Labor Department estimates that raising the retirement age by two years could bring several billion more euros into the coffers needed for annual pension payments. But unions say there are other ways to ensure the pension system does not collapse. They mention, for example, taxing the super-rich or increasing employer contributions.

Protest march in Toulouse:

The poll says Macron is not a good president

The government made some concessions in the bill, such as setting the new retirement age at 64 instead of Macron’s campaign promise of 65. It also agreed to a minimum pension of 1,200 euros per month for everyone.

Prime Minister Elizabeth Borneo said the age limit of 64 was “non-negotiable” but that the government was looking at options to offset some of the effects, particularly on women. Lawmakers will debate the bill at committee level as protest marches take place across France. The union said it was trying to convince lawmakers not to support the case.

existing Le Figaro Then, on the day of the strike, he released a poll showing that 63 percent of French people think Macron is “not a good president”. And according to 66 percent of respondents, even Prime Minister Elizabeth Born does not lead the government very well. For Borneo, it was the worst result since taking office. The newspaper quoted the authors of the survey as saying that “her predecessor, Jean Castex, did not have this level of decline.”

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These are researchers from the agency Odoxa, who say the approval ratings of Macron and Borneo among the French have fallen by five percentage points each in just a month and a half. They conducted the survey on January 25 and 26 on a sample of 1,004 people.

Also, 64% of the French respondents believe that if their country enters a state of “major blockade” due to protests against pension reform, the government will be responsible. Only 35 percent would refer to unions.

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, sided with the strikers. Therefore, the City Hall remained closed on Tuesday. This “reform” is an unfair and brutal step backwards. In the face of the systematic destruction of our social achievements, we must never give up! Today, as tomorrow, let’s stay alert,” she wrote.

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