0145 GMT December 12, 2019
Gathering in Paris, they want to vent their anger at the reform proposals that President Emmanuel Macron thinks are necessary to make the pension system financially sustainable, AP reported.
Strikers want the government to abandon its plans.
With the proposal, Macron’s government wants to apply one set of rules to all new pensioners. It would replace the current 42 pension regimes that apply to various professions and can include specific provisions, like early retirement for train workers. All French retirees receive a state pension. The overall legal retirement age is 62.
The industrial action illustrates the mounting fears across generations that people will have to work longer for less.
Today’s strikes are expected to snarl transport, with trains remaining in their depots and flights delayed or canceled. Thousands of schools will be closed, and garbage may not be collected as many workers, mostly from the public sector, have joined the movement.
Some public hospital workers will go to the Paris march and police unions are calling for a symbolic protest, too.
The upcoming strikes are the latest in a long line of protests since Macron came to power in 2017. Most center on changes to the labor market, which Macron insisted during his election were necessary for France to become a more dynamic economy.
The worry for Macron’s government is that the strikes could reignite the yellow vest protests, which erupted in November 2018 and quickly turned into a broader movement for more economic and social justice and were against Macron’s policies seen as favoring the rich.
French political scientist Dominique Andolfatto said the planned reforms concern everyone and that the government has not communicated its intentions clearly. Details on the pensions won’t be known until the bill is presented next year.
As a result, he said the planned reforms have “created anxiety within the population.”