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Latest Bid by France's Macron to Quell Protests Over Neoliberal Pension Scheme Fails As Strikes Continue

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday attempted to quell protests over his scheme to curtail the scope of France’s pension system by announcing he would forego his own presidential pension—but the demonstrations, which shut down the country for the week leading up to Christmas, were nonetheless expected to continue through the holiday.

Paris’ busy Gare de Lyon station was stormed by protesters who occupied the station platforms on Monday. Protesters chanted and jumped up and down in unison as the station concourse filled up with smoke from flares let off by protesters.

The 42-year-old French president said he would give up an automatic pension of €6,000 ($6653.19) a month after leaving office.

French protesters were not having it, as Bloomberg News explained:

Labor unions, which have led opposition to Macron’s plans, have vowed to continue striking and marching during Christmas and into January. The CGT labor confederation on Monday said it was planning actions every day during the holiday season and stuck to its demands that the government must withdraw its planned reform. The union’s railroad branch earlier had told AFP they would hold a concert at the Austerlitz train station in central Paris on Christmas Eve, as well as dinners in other stations.

Some workers in fuel depots have started blocking facilities in Lavera in Southern France, and others threaten to follow. Energy grid workers at EDF resorted to localized “sabotage” actions, temporarily cutting power to households or stadiums. Paris Metro is still severely disrupted, and less then half of the trains are planned to run on Tuesday across France.

Macron’s proposed change to France’s pensions would raise the age for a full pension to 64 from 62 and reinterpret the system to award payments based on points. The approach has generated a resistance movement with protesters blockading streets and engaging in a general strike.

Though the strikes are disrupting travel during the holiday, the French support the actions.

Recent polling shows 62% of the country is behind the movement.



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Common Dreams

This article is republished from Common Dreams under a Creative Commons 3.0 license.