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Strikes will disrupt public transport in France on Tuesday, minister says


Public transport in France will be heavily disrupted on Tuesday due to labour union strikes protesting the government’s planned changes to pension, Transport Minister Clement Beaune said on Sunday.

“It will be a difficult, very difficult day for public transport… We expect major disruptions,” Beaune said on LCI TV.

He added that the government remained open to talks with the unions but he said that the government would maintain the core target of the change proposed by President Emmanuel Macron; the increase of the retirement age by two years to 64.

“The heart of the reform will not change,” he said.

The government wants to gradually increase the retirement age by three months per year from September, until 2030.

From 2027, workers will also have to make social security contributions over 43 years rather than 42 years in order to draw a full pension. The additional year was already foreseen in a 2014 reform but the government is accelerating the pace of transition.

Unions – including the moderate CFDT union – are united against the reform and have vowed to continue strikes and demonstrations until the government drops its plans.

Macron has said he was elected on a platform to reform pensions and that without the changes France’s pension system cannot remain financially viable.

Unions organised a first major protest on January 19, when more than a million people marched against the reform through French cities. Strikes also also halted trains, blocked refineries and curbed power generation.

Last week, unions had planned a 48-hour strike at nuclear plants and fuel refineries for Thursday and Friday, but the action petered out after a day, with the hardline CGT union saying workers preferred to join the planned national strike on Tuesday.

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Clement Beaune, France’s Secretary of State for European affairs, speaks at the European Railway Summit in Saint-Denis, near Paris, France, February 21, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Laurent Escure, General secretary of France National Union of Autonomous Trade Unions (Union nationale des Syndicats Autonomes – UNSA), Confederation of Christian Workers (CFTC) union vice-president Pascale Coton, Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT) union’s general secretary Laurent Berger, Union syndicale Solidaires co-general delegate Murielle Guilbert, CFE-CGC labour union’s president Francois Hommeril, CGT labour union leader Philippe Martinez, Force Ouvriere (FO) union general secretary Frederic Souillot attend a joint news conference of French labour unions on pension reform near the National Assembly in Paris, France, January 25, 2023. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier