The national strike against the pension reform, called by the eight main unions, is having a strong impact this Thursday in France. The protest, a great challenge for President Macron and his government, has caused the closure of gas stations and schools, is disrupting public transport and the rail network, as well as causing a drop in electricity production.
Some 10,000 police and gendarmes are deployed to ensure order, of which 3,500 in Paris, where a demonstration will be held starting at 2:00 p.m. Since the early hours of the morning there have already been controls at the accesses to the capital to prevent objects or weapons likely to be used in the march from being introduced. Many merchants along the protest trail have closed and protected their businesses.
The CGT union has indicated that all the refineries of the TotalEnergies consortium have interrupted production and supply, since between 70 and 100% of their personnel support the strike. As a consequence of the protest movement, the workers of the EDF company have caused a drop in electricity production equivalent to at least twice the consumption of Paris.
“This issue of pensions channels all the discontent,” says Philippe Martínez, general secretary of the CGT.
Several union leaders have appeared before the media to encourage participation in the strike and to attack the pension reform, which they flatly reject because they consider it unfair, especially with the humblest classes who start working very young and whose life expectancy is lower than that of middle and senior managers in the public and private sectors. “This question of pensions channels all the discontents”, declared Philippe Martinez, general secretary of the CGT, on the Public Sénat radio station. “When all the unions agree, it is something rare and it means that the problem is very serious,” added Martinez.
The leader of the CFDT union -moderate and of Christian origin-, Laurent Berger, complained on BFM-TV that the striking workers are accused of irresponsibility. Berger indicated that they are aware of the financial difficulties of the State but added that “this reform will create many injustices, many inequalities”-
The strike is affecting all rail traffic, from commuter trains to TGVs. The latter circulate only partially, one in three convoys on the north-south axis, one in four to the east and one in five on the Atlantic axis. Many users changed their tickets. The strikers at the SNCF company do not lack humor. In a Parisian station, this text was read on one of the screens: “Fluid traffic. Have a good trip”