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France hit by nationwide strikes as unions fight Macron’s pension reform

French train drivers, teachers and refinery workers were among those who walked off their jobs on Thursday (19 January) in a nationwide day of strikes against government plans to raise the retirement age by two years to 64.
 
by EURACTIV.com with Reuters 

Part 3 - Tax the rich?

But with public sector workers often at the forefront of strikes, some seven out of 10 primary school teachers have said they will strike, their main union said. In Paris, students blockaded at least one high school in support of the strike action.

EDF and grid operator RTE data showed electricity production was down by roughly 12% of total power supply, prompting France to raise its imports.

Shipments were blocked at TotalEnergies’ refineries in France, union and company officials said. TotalEnergies chief executive Patrick Pouyanne said on Wednesday that one day of strikes would not disrupt refinery operations, but this could change if protests continued.

The impact on air traffic was largely limited to a reduction of about 20% of flights in Orly, Paris’ second-biggest airport. Air France said it was operating all its long-haul flights and 90% of its short and medium-haul flights.

Macron and several of his ministers meanwhile will be in Barcelona on Thursday for a meeting with Spanish officials.

The pension reform still needs to go through parliament, where Macron has lost his absolute majority but is hoping to get it passed with the support of conservatives.

Unions argue there are other ways to ensure the viability of the pension system such as taxing the super-rich or increasing employers’ contributions or those of well-off pensioners.

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