France begins indefinite strikes against pension reform

Employees in almost all sectors of the French economy on Tuesday begin indefinite strikes against the pension reform of the government of President Emmanuel Macron, which involves raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 years, and more than 270 demonstrations will be held in the country.

France’s leading unions, including the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) and the French Democratic Confederation of Workers (CFDT), are calling for action as large as possible to “bring the French economy to its knees” if the government does not withdraw the reform project.

Some workers in the energy sector announced the start of the strike on Friday, when employees of French nuclear power plants began to strike. On Monday, they were joined by workers in the gas sector. Employees at three of France’s four LNG terminals – two LNG terminals in Fos-sur-Mer (Fos-Cavaou and Fos-Tonkin) and Saint-Nazare – said they were shutting down for a week. During the strike, gas will not be supplied to the networks of the French gas operator GRTgaz, LNG tankers will not be unloaded and transport tank containers will not be filled.

Workers from oil refineries are also expected to join the strikes, whose protests in the autumn led to an acute shortage of fuel at gas stations in France. The union group CGT-FO-CFDT has already announced the start of an indefinite strike at the Donge refinery, owned by TotalEnergies.

Due to the strikes in France, the movement of trains and public transport will be severely disrupted. Traffic in the Paris metro, however, will not be completely stopped. On most lines, trains will operate during peak hours, but they will run at an increased interval. The traffic of trams and buses will also be reduced.

The Paris airports Charles de Gaulle, Orly and Beauvais, as well as the airports of the largest cities in France, will reduce the number of flights by 20-30% on March 7 and 8, the French General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC) reported.

The strikes will be actively supported by employees of the educational sector. According to leading elementary school union Snuipp-FSU, more than 60% of staff will not show up for work on Tuesday. The unions called for “complete closure of schools, lyceums, and colleges” on 7 March.

As the Secretary General of the Confederation of Small and Medium Enterprises of France (CPME) said on Monday, Jean-Eud du Mesnilone day of nationwide strike in France will cost the country 1.5 billion euros.

The French authorities fear the scale of the protests. Minister of Transport Clement Bon and Minister of Labor Olivier Dusso urged not to block the country and not to “punish the French”, but the speaker of the French Cabinet Olivier Veran and even stated that the blocking of the state is β€œthe risk of an ecological, agricultural and sanitary catastrophe.”

In addition to the strikes, multiple demonstrations will also take place in France on Tuesday against the bill calling for the trade unions CGT, FO, CFDT, FSU, Unsa, Solidaires. More than 270 demonstrations are expected across France. According to the BFMTV channel, about 1.1-1.4 million people are expected to participate in them.

Prime Minister of France Elizabeth Born presented a draft pension reform, which the government plans to adopt in 2023, on January 10. According to her, the authorities will begin to raise the retirement age in the country by three months a year from September 1, 2023. Thus, by 2030 he will reach 64 years.

The main reason for the reform, the French government calls the lack of budget money to finance payments to pensioners.

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