A second national strike halted power generation, public transport and schools on Tuesday in response to government plans to raise the retirement age.
The unions, who have planned all-day protests in France, want to keep the pressure on the government and hope for a repeat of the high turnout seen at the first protest on Jan. 19.
“Unfair and Cruel Reform”
More than a million people marched that day to oppose raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 and to accelerate plans to raise the full retirement age.
“This reform is unfair and cruel,” said Luke Farr, secretary general of the National Federation of Independent Public Employees Unions. “Raising the retirement age to 64 represents a social regression.”
On Tuesday, only one of the high-speed TGV trains was running, and fewer local and regional trains, the Paris Metro, suffered serious disruptions.
The primary teachers’ union said half the teachers would go on strike, as would oil refinery workers and workers in other sectors, including state stations that broadcast music instead of news programs.
Power supply in France fell by 4.4%, or 2.9 gigawatts, as workers at nuclear reactors and thermal power plants struck, according to data from the EDF group.
Total Energies said there is no supply of petroleum products from its facilities in France due to the strike, adding that service stations are fully stocked and customers’ needs are being met.
Opinion polls show a majority of French people oppose the reforms, but President Emmanuel Macron and his government plan to stay out. On Monday, Macron said the reform was “essential” to keep the pension system functioning.
The Ministry of Labor estimates that raising the retirement age by two years and extending the payment period would result in €17.7 billion (USD/$19.18 billion: €0.9227) in annual contributions for pensions, which would allow the system to break even in 2027.
Unions say there are other ways to achieve this, such as taxing the super-rich or getting employers or retirees to contribute more.
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