New mass demonstrations hit France against pension reforms

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 09, 2020, 09.08 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

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The strikes, continuing since December 5, disrupted train services as hundreds of protesters poured into streets across France.

French unions on Thursday again took streets in the latest round of protests against the pension reforms.

The strikes, continuing since December 5, disrupted train services as hundreds of protesters poured into streets across France.

According to a report by Reuters, the police in Nates, Paris and western France fired tear gas to disperse the crowd while demonstrators hurled projectiles at the officers.

The transport services have been the worst hit due to the nationwide strikes which has led to power cuts, closure of train services and schools. 

Aviation authorities on Thursday warned of potential cancellations as traffic controllers walked off the job.

Former investment banker Macron wants to streamline France's unwieldy pension system and incentivise the French to stay in work longer to pay for some of the most generous retirement benefits in the industrialised world.

Unions are demanding the government drop its reform in their biggest show of strength in decades.

Officials have said they are ready to negotiate, in particular on the hotly contested "pivot age" of 64 the government has suggested people will have to work until for a full pension -- beyond the official retirement age of 62.

The proposed reform would be the biggest overhaul of the system since World War Two and is central to the president's drive to make the French labour force more flexible and more competitive globally.

He says the myriad special benefits handed out to different types of worker deter mobility within the job market, especially within the public sector.

If Macron succeeds in defeating the unions - he has already stared them down over reform of state-run SNCF railways and an easing of labour laws - he will strengthen his hand to embark on further pro-business reforms as he eyes re-election in 2022.

Previous rallies in the capital have been marred by vandalism and clashes with police, and the Eiffel Tower has shut ahead of Thursday's protests.

(With inputs from agencies)