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French strikes rumble on as PM vows to ‘go to end’

Paris commuters battled to reach work again on Monday as a 40-day-old strike dragged on and France’s premier vowed “to go to the end” with the pension reforms that sparked the action.

There was still major disruption on the Paris metro and national railway systems, even after Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced a major concession to the unions at the weekend.

“We are going to go to the end” in implementing the pension reforms, Philippe told France 2 TV late Sunday.

Philippe announced Saturday he would drop plans to increase the official age for a full pension to 64 from 62 — the so-called “pivot age” a move welcomed by the more moderate trade unions like the CFDT.

However, the more hardline CGT, FO and Solidaires unions were standing firm, calling for the strike and protests to continue, including a major demonstration on January 16.

“The end of the pivot age does not mean the end of the strike,” commented the Le Parisien daily.

The strike has also been observed by other public service workers affected by the reforms, including staff at the Paris Opera which on Saturday cancelled its performance of The Barber of Seville, its first show of 2020.

Demonstrators in the capital on Saturday, some masked and hooded, broke shop windows along their protest route, set fires and threw projectiles at police in riot gear who responded with tear gas.