Christmas travel in France likely to be disrupted as strikes continue

Protests against pension reform enter third week as Macron hints at concessions

French travellers were braced for transport disruption over the Christmas holiday season after unions vowed to continue the nationwide transport strike over pension reforms until January, as thousands prepared to travel home to their families

The French prime minister, Edouard Philippe, failed to break the deadlock in talks with unions and employers’ representatives on Thursday where the government had sought to avoid a Christmas holiday pile-up of frustrated travellers on Friday and over the weekend.

As strikes entered their third week, Philippe emerged from the talks saying he was committed to pushing through the pension reforms. The president, Emmanuel Macron had indicated via his office earlier this week that he was “willing to improve” his plan to eliminate dozens of separate pension schemes by creating a single points-based system.

But unions continued to express their anger at a new “pivot age” of 64 that workers would have to reach in order to receive a full pension, beyond the official retirement age of 62.

Philippe reiterated a plea to unions to suspend transport strikes during the holidays. “I call on unions to allow French people to travel to see their families over Christmas,” he said.