Though the situation for those needing to use public transport in France has improved slightly in the past week on nationwide strikes in protest at the government’s proposed reforms to labour law and retirement pensions entered their week. Official spokespeople claim there has been progress in negotiations with unions, but there is little observable evidence to support this.
However, the crisis hitting France, one of the world’s biggest economies at the height of the holiday season is far from over.
Anti-government protesters maintained the pressure on President Emmanuel Macron with a new march through Paris in yesterday afternoon. Some workers are determined to to maintain the general strike throughout the holiday period and into the New Year.
SNCF, the state owned rail system said about 60 per cent of trains were at a standstill, down from 90 per cent earlier in the strike but enough to disrupt life in the nation. Provincial cities have suffered fewer problems but in Paris tourists and commuters alike are still struggling to move around the French capital, due to buses and the subway system as well as local train servuces being hit by the industrial action.
The centrist Macron, a former investment banker, wants to raise the retirement age to 64 and says the current pension system costs too much; unions say the pension reform is part of Macron’s plans to dismantle hard-won worker rights, and want to preserve a system that allows some workers to leave as early as their fifties.
Many protestors are angry that while Macron says the nation cannot afford to pay pensions the president is still inviting uneducated, unskilled, uncivilised, unemployable third world migrants to the country where they are fed, housed, educated and cared for at the expense of French taxpayers.