Dec 5, 2019

French unions launch massive strikes to protest retirement reform

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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Ahead of NATO summit, Erdogan condemns Macron for "brain death" comments

Emmanuel Macron (L) with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, June 28. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a televised speech Friday that Emmanuel Macron's recent warning about NATO was a “sick and shallow” interpretation, sniping at the French president to have his own "brain death" checked, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Erdogan's attacks on Macron, whom he also called a "novice" that knows how to "show off," come just days before NATO leaders are set to meet in London for a summit.

Go deeperArrowDec 1, 2019

Trump and Macron spar over Turkey's role in NATO

Photo: Ludovic Marin/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron papered over the cracks in their relationship in a press conference Tuesday in London, but disagreed sharply over Turkey’s role in the NATO alliance.

Why it matters: Macron made waves ahead of this week’s NATO gathering by describing the alliance as unmoored and "brain dead" as a result of the U.S. pulling back and Turkey going rogue — comments Trump described Tuesday morning as “very insulting.” Trump has been agitated with Macron for weeks, Axios’ Jonathan Swan reports.

Go deeperArrowDec 3, 2019

Deep Dive: Retirement becomes more myth than reality

Data: U.S. Census Bureau and PNAS; Chart: Naema Ahmed

The number of Americans in the workforce who are over 64 years old has tripled over the past 30 years.

Why it matters: Delayed retirement is a sign of health and affluence for some and a continued life of hardship for others. As society ages and people live longer, a 21st century idea of retirement is needed, Steve Vernon of the Stanford Center on Longevity tells Axios.