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Why let Christmas stop the fight? French pension strikers march into fourth week of protests

French workers objecting to President Macron’s pension reforms are marching in Paris again. The strike that disrupted Christmas travel plans and cost hundreds of millions has now reached its fourth week.

Thousands of people flooded the streets of Paris on Thursday in their latest march against the proposed reform that seeks to merge the current 42 pension schemes into one. The proposal was rejected by unions and workers in many professions as it strips early retirement options for doing physically demanding or hazardous jobs.

With railway workers joining in the general strike, France was semi-paralyzed on Christmas Eve. Many trains were canceled and just two of 16 Paris metro lines remain operational. Other means of transportation couldn’t make up for the shortfall.

The protesters and the government last week failed to reach a compromise or at least a holiday truce. Talks are scheduled to resume on January 7, which means the New Year period will be just as difficult for many, including holiday goers.

The strike is meant to repeat the success of 1995, when a series of protests culminating in three weeks of rail disruption just before Christmas forced the government of Jacques Chirac to cancel a planned retirement reform.

An estimated 400 million euros was lost from the current turmoil by the rail operator SNCF alone over the first 21 days of the strike. Other businesses reported suffering a heavy toll from the loss of Christmas boom.