Published: Wed, December 11, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

French unions gear up for show of force over Macron's pension reforms

French unions gear up for show of force over Macron's pension reforms

On Sunday, the 8th of December 2019, at the fourth day of a nationwide strike against a recently introduced pension reform scheme in France, French Govt. of centre-left President Emmanuel Macron said that the French Govt. would remain determined to execute its planned pension reforms adding that the system would be sensitized gradually given the extent of disapproval the French pension reform bill was met with over the recent past.

However, early protest figures revealed that turnout this time round was lower than last Thursday's day of demonstrations, which saw more than 800,000 people take to the streets. That could weaken the unions' efforts to demand attention as the government prepares to unveil details of the new retirement plan Wednesday. Police said 22 people were arrested on Tuesday for various protest rule violations like bringing forbidden objects like a mask to cover the face, in their bags objects.

Disgruntled hospital workers, firefighters, students and anti-government protesters of the "yellow vest, quot; also participated in the demonstrations on Tuesday, reflecting the broad level of dissatisfaction with Macron's policies mid-term".

Nationwide, only about a fifth of French trains ran normally Tuesday, frustrating tourists who found train stations empty and trains cancelled.

The industrial action has paralysed public transport in Paris and other main cities, disrupted national rail services and grounded many planes.

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"I've had it today", said one frustrated traveler as he battled his way through a crowded platform.

"I understand the situation, (retirement reform) concerns us all", he told The Associated Press. "But at the same time, it penalizes all the people who have to go to work and don't have a vehicle". One 37-year-old woman from Persan-Beaumont in the Paris suburbs had to arrive 5 hours before her blood analysis appointment because of the scarcity of connecting trains.

However, the unions showed no signs of regressing in their greatest show of strength since Macron took office in 2017 promising to reduce public spending and make the economy more competitive. When it is finally clear how it plans to work, it seems highly unlikely that citizens will get larger pensions instead of smaller ones.

Mr. Philippe stated that it might be "unreasonable, unacceptable, unfair, to alter the principles mid-game" for workers who had made life and profession selections primarily based on their previous pension rights and that he was "completely" able to "be sure that transitions are progressive".

The new system will cancel all exceptions and privileges and have workers retire at the same age and only after collecting the required minimum of points for the number of years at work. "We want to protect the purchasing power of the workers and pensioners of today and tomorrow".

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