A nationwide strike on Tuesday marched in opposition and caused disruptions in French public transportation as protests took place across the country in response to the government’s proposed increase of the retirement age to 64 from 62, and hastening the delay of full pension eligibility.
Unions aim to maintain pressure on the government and aimed to achieve the same level of participation as the first national protest on January 19th, where over a million people had participated.
Luc Farre, the secretary general of the UNSA union of civil servants, stated that the pension reform is “unfair and brutal” and moving the retirement age to 64 is a “step backwards, socially.”
On Tuesday, only one-third of high-speed TGV trains operated and even fewer local and regional trains were functional. The Paris metro was also severely impacted. Several primary school teachers also participated in the strike, as well as oil refinery employees and workers from various industries. The idea was to bring the country to a complete standstill to put pressure on the government.
According to the estimate by the Labour Ministry, the extension of the retirement age by 2 years and increasing the pay-in period would result in an additional 17.7 billion euros ($19.18 billion) in annual pension contributions, leading to a balanced pension system by 2027.
Despite a majority of the French population opposing the reform, President Emmanuel Macron and the government remain determined to push forward, considering the reform ‘vital’ to maintain the sustainability of the pension system.