French unions call for new strikes and street protests on Tuesday

French unions call for new strikes and street protests on Tuesday
Photos: AFP
Unions have called for another day of mass strikes and protests on Tuesday December 10th as industrial action against planned pension reforms continues to cause major transport disruption.

After a joint meeting on Friday morning, a group of unions issued a call for more mass protests  and strikes around the country on Tuesday December 10th.

Those workers who had already declared 'rolling' strikes that began on Thursday – such as rail workers and air traffic controllers – were called on to keep their strikes going until Tuesday.

The unions who represent workers on the RATP Paris public transport network had already announced that their strike will continue until Monday, December 9th.

The joint meeting, attended by France's biggest unions, released a joint statement saying that “the ball was now in the government's court” to compromise over the proposed pension reforms.

Unions claim the reform, which the French government has not published yet, will leave millions of workers with lower pensions and having to work beyond the official retirement age of 62.

READ ALSO Flights, ferries, trains and buses – your strike questions answered

 

 

Catherine Perret, Confederal Secretary of the CGT, said: “Everybody in the street on Tuesday, December 10th, for a new day… of strikes, actions and protests.

“The employees have made their point. It is a question of withdrawing the universal reform project by point and opening negotiations to improve the current system,” she said.

Some strike actions will continue between now and Tuesday, particularly in the transport sector.

French president Emmanuel Macron was described as “calm and determined' by an aide on Thursday.

But several ministers including health minister Agnes Buzyn and education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer were meeting union leaders for discussions over the proposed pension reforms.

More meetings will take place between ministers and unions on Monday.

Protests around France on Thursday – the first day of the strike – drew 800,000 people on to the streets, and the unions hope to repeat that turnout on Tuesday.

READ ALSO 'We have no choice' French unions explain their decision to strike

Despite some annoyance at the inconvenience, the strikers are still enjoying broad support from the public, with recent polls showing an average of 60 percent of French people supporting to strike.

Although one poll for Ifop found that 76 percent of respondents back the idea of pension reform, 64 percent do not trust the government, which widely seen as 'pro business', to pull it off.

Christian Mahieux, leader of the rail union Sud-Rail, said: “It is true that, because we do a socially useful job, when this work suddenly stops, it is a real inconvenience for the community,” admits the former Parisian railway worker, who worked at the Gare de Lyon ticket office in 1995.
 
However he added that this does not prevent  “strong support and understanding from the population”.
 
Many union activists see the current strike in comparison to similar mass strike action in 1995, which brought the country to a virtual halt for three weeks before the government abandoned its proposed pension reform.
 
Christian Mahieux added: “For us, 1995 was part of the direct legacy of the strike that lasted from December 1986 to January 1987.  This is where “democratic practices that have made a mark, such as general assemblies, service by service, and the opening of discussions to political subjects.”
 
 

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  1. Well, they would, wouldn’t they. Did anyone seriously believe this is a ‘one day’ general strike?

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