| 31 March 2023, Friday |

Strikes spread as French unions intensify pension reform fight

Truck drivers and trash collectors in France joined nationwide strikes on Tuesday in protest of President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed pension reforms as labor unions intensified their effort to try and compel a policy U-turn.

On the sixth day of nationwide protests over Macron’s proposal to raise the retirement age by two years to 64, there was also significant disruption to rail services, a halt to fuel delivery, and teacher walkouts.

“I don’t want to work until I’m 64 … we’re fighting not to lose our rights,” 50-year-old truck driver Mickael Lormeau said at a protest march in the western France city of Saint-Nazaire, one of more than 300 rallies scheduled across the country.

“People are fed up, they’re exhausted,” 41-year-old Jessica Trocme, a union leader in a Lidl supermarket, said in Saint-Nazaire.

Across the country, many protest rallies attracted bigger crowds than previous ones organized since mid-January, including in Marseille, one of France’s biggest cities, authorities and local media said. There was no data yet for the Paris march.

This is a critical time for both sides since the government is hoping the pension changes will be adopted by parliament by the end of the month.

Looking to pile pressure on lawmakers, France’s more hardline unions said there would be rolling strikes this time, which could go on for days, including at oil refineries and on the railways.

“We will continue until the reform is withdrawn,” the head of Force Ouvriere (FO) union, Frédéric Souillot, told RTL radio.

  • Reuters