Huge crowds march through France, mounting pressure against Macron’s pension reform

Huge crowds march through France, mounting pressure against Macron's pension reform
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  • The reform would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 years
  • Schools, transport networks, deliveries from affected refineries
  • Macron: Vital reform to guarantee the viability of the pension system

PARIS, Jan 31 (Reuters) – Huge crowds marched across France on Tuesday to say “No” to President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to make people work longer before they retire, and pressure in the streets intensified against a government that He says that he will stand firm.

Opinion polls show a substantial majority of the French opposition raised the retirement age from 62 to 64, a move Macron says is “vital” to ensure the viability of the pension system.

In Paris, while estimates from police and unions varied widely, all agreed that the numbers have risen since the first national day of anti-reform protests on January 1. 19

That held true in much of France. In the western city of Nantes, for example, 23,000 people took to the streets, authorities said, up from 17,000 on 19.

“It’s better than 19… It’s a real message sent to the government, saying we don’t want 64,” Laurent Berger, who heads the CFDT, France’s biggest union, said before the march in Paris.

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Marching behind banners reading “No to reform” or “We won’t give up,” many said they would take to the streets as many times as it took for the government to back down.

“For the president it’s easy. He sits in a chair… he can even work until he’s 70,” bus driver Isabelle Texier said at a protest in Saint-Nazaire, on the Atlantic coast. “We can’t ask roofers to work until 64, it’s not possible.”

Striking workers disrupted French refinery deliveries, public transport and schools, even if, in several sectors, fewer walked off the job Tuesday than on the 19th, as the cost-of-living crisis makes it harder not to pay a payday.


For the unions, which seemed likely to announce more labor action later in the day, the challenge will be keeping up the strikes at a time when high inflation is eroding wages.

A union source said around 36.5% of workers at rail operator SNCF were on strike at midday, down almost 10% from January 1. 19, even if the disruption to train traffic was largely similar.

On rail networks, only one in three high-speed TGV trains operated, let alone commuter and regional trains. Paris metro services were left in disarray.

EDF Public Services Group (EDF.PA) it said that 40.3% of workers were on strike, compared to 44.5%. The Education Ministry also said that fewer teachers quit their jobs.

Unions and companies sometimes disagreed on whether this strike was more or less successful than the previous one. for total energy (TTEF.PA)fewer workers in your refineries There were demolished tools, but the CGT said that there were more.

In any case, f.french power supply it fell by about 5% or 3.3 gigawatts (GW) as workers at nuclear reactors and thermal plants joined the strike, EDF data showed.

And TotalEnergies said deliveries of petroleum products from its facilities in France have stopped, but customer needs have been met.


The government has said that raising the retirement age to 64 is “non-negotiable.”

And with the reform testing Macron’s ability to drive change now that he has lost his working-class majority in parliament, some have resigned amid negotiations with conservative opponents who are quite open to pension reform.

“There is no point in going on strike. This bill will pass anyway,” said Matthieu Jacquot, 34, who works in the luxury sector.

the pension system reform it would generate an additional 17.7 billion euros (19.18 billion dollars) in annual contributions to pensions, according to estimates by the Ministry of Labor. Unions say there are other ways to boost income, such as taxing the super-rich or asking employers or well-to-do retirees to contribute more.

“This reform is unfair and brutal,” said Luc Farre, general secretary of the civil servants’ union UNSA.

Locally, some announced unauthorized government-sanctioned “Robin Hood” operations. In the southwestern area of ​​Lot-et-Garonne, the local CGT union branch cut power to several speed cameras and disabled smart power meters.

“When there is such massive opposition, it would be dangerous for the government not to listen,” said Mylene Jacquot, secretary general of the CFDT civil servants’ branch.

Additional reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, Forrest Crellin, Benjamin Mallet, Alain Acco, Layli Foroudi, Stephane Mahe, Benoit Van Overstraeten, Leigh Thomas, Michel Rose, Bertrand Boucey; Written by Ingrid Melander and Richard Lough; Edited by Janet Lawrence, Mark Heinrich, and Gareth Jones

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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