France: Unions call for new protests, strikes on Tuesday over pension reforms 

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Dec 06, 2019, 05.52 PM(IST) Edited By: Sparshita Saxena

Protesters hold a banner during a demonstration against French government's pensions reform plans in Paris as part of a day of national strike and protests in France, December 5, 2019. The slogan reads 'Fight together or suffer alone'. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Macron-led government acknowledges that that a single pension system will have people work longer but will also be fairer to all, ensuring financial viability.

Angered over President Emmanuel Macron's pension reforms, French unions on Friday called for strikes and mass protests next week on Tuesday. This comes after thousands took to the street on Thursday protesting Macron-proposed retirement overhaul.

"Everybody in the street on Tuesday, December 10, for a new day... of strikes, actions and protests," Catherine Perret, a senior member of the CGT union, France's biggest public-sector union, told reporters after a meeting of four unions.

Unions' strikes and protest spilled into the second day on Friday, derailing public transport and affecting hundreds on travelers. 

The protesters are determined not to stay put unless Macron backs down on the controversial pension overhauls.

Unions argue that Macron's "universal" pension system would eliminate dozens of separate plans for public workers and will force millions of people, in both public and private sectors, to work well beyond the legal retirement age of 62, news agency AFP reported. 

In France, the minimum pension age is 62 which is also the lowest among developed countries across the globe. However, there exist over forty "special regimes" for railway workers, lawyers, opera employees and others that offer benefits like earlier retirements.

Macron-led government acknowledges that that a single pension system will have people work longer but will also be fairer to all, ensuring financial viability.

The recent strike by the unions was enough to throw the country into a state of chaos. As reported by AFP, rail operator SNCF said 90 per cent of high-speed TGV trains were again cancelled, and several airlines dropped flights including Air France, EasyJet and Ryanair.

Nine of the capital's 16 metro lines were shut and most others severely disrupted, sparking some 350 kilometres (220 miles) of traffic jams in the Paris region, well above the usual 200 km, the traffic website Sytadin reported.

A whopping 800,000 demonstrators took to the streets across the country on Thursday, the interior ministry estimated .

France, earlier this year, saw protests from teachers, hospital workers, police and firefighters as well as the "yellow vest" movement. The French have been demanding improved living standards.

(With inputs from AFP)