National strike in France over raising the retirement age affects airports, schools, and oil refineries
French oil refineries, schools, and transportation systems were all severely disrupted on Thursday as a result of a nationwide strike called by workers in opposition to an increase in the retirement age that was forced through parliament without a vote.
After the French government pushed the bill through last week, there were intermittent protests in Paris and other cities, but Thursday was the first day of planned action since then. When the measure was proposed in January, there have been nine days of strikes.
Only two of Paris’s fourteen metro lines were running on a regular schedule. Throughout the city and its environs, RER train services were drastically cut back, and just half of the high-speed TGV trains were operating. 30% of flights at Paris Orly airport were impacted by the nationwide strike, which also had an impact on ground transportation.
According to a government spokesperson, unionized workers occupied two large French oil refineries: one in Fos-sur-Mer in the south and one in Normandy.
Agnès Pannier-Runacherin, the minister of energy transformation, issued a statement saying, “We are intervening in a targeted manner to unblock oil storage tanks that are blocked by demonstrators.”
“If blockading is not a fundamental constitutional right, then the strike is. In these challenging times, the cops have my full support.
According to the government spokeswoman, the government has reissued the requisition order compelling employees at the two blockaded refineries to report to work.
Several individuals criticized the government’s intention to increase the retirement age for the majority of workers by two years. But despite protests that brought more than a million people onto the country’s streets, President Emmanuel Macron’s administration remained steadfast. Last Monday, it forced the bill through the French National Assembly by relying on a constitutional provision that permits the administration to exclude a vote.
Since they were implemented following World War II, the nation’s generous pension program and early retirement have been sources of pride. The majority of workers’ retirement age will be 64 under the new rule, which is still among the lowest in the industrialized world.
Kerosene stocks at Charles De Gaulle airport, which serves Paris, were “under strain” as a result of the refinery strikes, and those at Orly airport were being watched, according to the civil aviation authority.
An airport spokeswoman told CNN that earlier in the day, about 70 protestors had blocked terminal one at Charles de Gaulle.
According to France’s education ministry, almost 20% of teachers who work in public schools also participated in the strikes. The retirement change, according to Macron and his administration, is required to keep the pension system solvent. As people live longer and more baby boomers retire, taxes from working people pay for retiree benefits because without them, the system will eventually collapse, but the threat is not immediate.
The administration claimed that the modifications were required when the proposal was published in January in order to prevent a projected 13.5 billion euro ($14.7 billion) gap in the pension system from emerging in 2030.
Macron stated that the measure should be passed by the end of this year in an interview with two of the major television networks in France on Wednesday. He also argued that even though the reform was controversial, it was financially important to get it through.
“It’s in the national interest overall. I decided to choose the national interest over public opinion polls,” Macron stated.