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

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Paris, France - 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.

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.

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 on Satur­day protests against in­equal­ity in

France had shaken the gov­ern­ment over the last year.

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. 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.

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.


Trucks block the A63 high­way dur­ing a na­tional strike called by the mo­tor car­rier union OTRE (Or­gan­i­sa­tion des Trans­porteurs Routiers Europeens) be­tween Castets and Les­peron, south­west­ern France on Satur­day

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