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France: Union Workers Go on Strike at Refineries Over Proposed Pension Reforms

French workers unions CGT (General Confederation of Labour) and FO (Force Ouvriere) called a strike at all eight French refineries across the country, as shown in footage from Grandpuits-Bailly-Carrois in the Seine-et-Marne department close to Paris, on Tuesday, over the French government’s planned pension reforms.

Worker and activist Marin Guillotin stated that “the management came to tell us that potentially if our strike movement should lead to the shutdown of the installations, it was possible that we would never restart,” due to dilapidated installations and ever-decreasing funding.

France has been paralysed by industrial action since strikes began on December 5, with unions attacking the government’s plans to introduce a universal pension system as forcing millions of private-sector workers to work beyond the legal retirement age in order to get a full pension.

On December 11, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced a two-year-extension of the working period necessary to be assigned a full pension. The reform will see many workers retire at 64 rather than the current 62 to earn their full pension. Talks between the government and unions are set to resume on Tuesday.

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