France brought to standstill

France brought to standstill as workers protest against rising of state pension age to 64

By Roger McKenzie

FRANCE ground to a halt today as workers went on strike over pensions changes that would see the state retirement age pushed up by two years to 64.

Transport, schools and oil refinery shipments were all disrupted by the stoppage against the attack on pensions by President Emannuel Macron’s government.

Unions say the government’s plans will punish women and those who started working at a young age or have physically demanding jobs.

Philippe Martinez, the general secretary of the left-wing CGT union centre, said the pension plan “bundles together everyone’s dissatisfaction” with the government, and the rare united front among worker representatives showed “the problem is very serious.”

He called the pension changes “unjust, dogmatic and ideological.”

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More than 1m march in France amid strikes over plan to raise retirement age

By Angelique Chrisafis
Jan 19, 2023

More than 1 million people have taken part in demonstrations across France as transport, schools and refineries were hit by strikes in protest at Emmanuel Macron’s unpopular plans to raise the retirement age by two years to 64.

The interior ministry said 1.12 million people protested nationwide on Thursday, with 80,000 taking part in the biggest rally in Paris. Trade unions said the figure was even higher.

Police made arrests on the edges of the march in central Paris amid clashes with officers in the early afternoon. Police said 15 people were arrested before the Paris march and 15 during it, for offences such as carrying illegal weapons or throwing projectiles. Shopkeepers around the Place de la République boarded up windows and shopfronts after the authorities warned of a possibility of vandalism after the marches or black bloc-style tactics.

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Local and regional train services across France ground almost to a standstill, and public transport in cities including Paris was “very disrupted”, according to operators.

Many primary schools closed for the day. Authorities estimated 40% of primary teachers and more than 30% of secondary teachers went on strike. Unions said participation was higher, at 70% in primary schools.

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