Dec 5, 2019

French unions launch massive strikes to protest retirement reform

People demonstrating during France's general strike

People demonstrating during France's general strike in Paris. Photo: Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

French unions marched through Paris on Thursday, barricading the presidential palace and forcing the closure of the Eiffel Tower as a part of a nationwide strike to protest the government’s plan to reform the country's retirement system, the AP reports.

The big picture: Organizers hoped to caution French President Emmanuel Macron against pursuing the reform, which many fear will disrupt the country's social safety nets, shrinking pensions and forcing longer work hours.

  • Workers in or around Paris region worked from home or took a day off. Around 78% of teachers in the capital went on strike.
  • The strike caused transportation woes with many of Paris' subway stations closed. France's civil aviation authority announced that 20% of flights were grounded, and 90% of the trains on its high-speed network were cancelled.

The state of play: Macron made streamlining the country's 42 retirement systems central to his 2017 presidential campaign, and an official said Macron remains "calm and determined" to enact the reform.

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