EYEAFRICA TV: Paris, France: France’s transport strike over the government’s pension reform that started on Dec.5 has entered its second month, but the “rapid compromise” as desired by French President Emmanuel Macron hasn’t appeared yet.
In his traditional New Year’s address, Macron called for a “rapid compromise” between unions and his government. But after a month of strike against the pension reform, the standoff is intensifying. Since early January, the transport strike has become slightly eased, but more demonstrations have been seen in other sectors. This weekend marked the resumption of demonstrations before returning to the negotiating table.
“We are mobilizing people to return to the strike. There will be a very large-scale and long demonstration on Jan.9,” said Benoît Martin, who heads the CGT (General Confederation of Labor) union for Paris.
At the call of different unions, thousands of people demonstrated in the capital Saturday, and many of them wore yellow vests. They have taken to the streets every Saturday for more than a year.
“The pension reform will impact everyone. It’s a negative reform that will make people work longer. Under the reform, we will retire with points. But if the government decides to lower the points, our pensions will drop. So here I am. I am a ‘yellow vest’ at the same time. I’m in solidarity with both younger and older generations. We unite together,” said Sévrine, a physical education teacher.
After a month of struggle, employees in the transport sector remain the spearhead of the movement. Although they will lose wages for January, they will establish solidarity and continue the strike.
“People are very generous nowadays. This is the first time that we have done this. We have made the box to ask people to donate us some money because we know many of our colleagues are in great financial difficulty. My colleagues from line B and I have made this board together to solicit people’s generosity,” said Fabrice Archet, a train driver for line B of the RER (Regional Express Network).
The coming week is likely to see the showdown between unions and the government, with nationwide strikes across industries.