TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Protesters took to the streets of Paris on Sunday as part of a nationwide multi-sector strike against the French government’s pensions overhaul.
Caught in a faceoff with Macron and the French government, France’s railway and other public sector workers remain on strike for the fifth week in a row. The national strike, which began December 5 of last year, is the longest transportation strike in France’s history and the longest general strike since May 1968, when the entire economy was ground to a halt by students and workers in an all-out revolt against the government.
As the strike continues, union leaders are attempting to negotiate with the government, but France’s workers are determined to continue the strike until Macron scraps his plans to restructure the pension system, Truthout reported.
January 9 marked the third official day of coordinated national action since the strike began. Unsatisfied by a day of negotiation with the government on January 7, the country’s major transportation unions, SNCF and RATP, took to the streets once again.
They were joined by other major unions, including the CGT and CFDT, France’s two largest unions, and thousands of supporters and Yellow Vests. Workers in the healthcare, education, energy, and communications sectors also participated, and in a new development in the movement, private sector workers entered the struggle, including sanitation workers.
This opens the possibility for cross-industry participation that could reinvigorate the strike effort, significantly disrupt France’s economy, and finally pressure Macron to cave.
Macron’s retirement reform would completely overhaul the current system, consolidating France’s 42 industry-specific plans to a single, universal plan. Such changes would demolish the hard-won retirement benefits that many workers rely on. It would also raise the retirement age and decrease pension income, meaning that individuals would have to work longer for less pay and security. Such reforms would particularly affect workers who are employed in dangerous or physically-demanding jobs, like train operators, who have the advantage of an early retirement age. Under the new plan, some sectors of workers would be forced to work up to ten extra years before they could retire.
On December 5, workers in transportation, communications, oil, and education began a nationwide strike. Trains across the country were ground to a halt. Paris’s metro system was paralyzed. Schools were closed and students protested alongside their teachers. Flights were grounded and1.5 million people took to the streets across France to protest Macron’s austerity measures.