Pension reform: France braces itself for disruptions as millions of workers threaten to strike

5th December 2019 

French President Emmanuel Macron had made pension reform a central focus of his electoral campaign.

France is bracing itself for severe disruptions as millions of workers threaten to strike in protest at being effectively forced to delay retirement or face reduced pensions.

Reportedly, school and transport workers will join police, lawyers, hospital and airport staff in a general strike. The largest nationwide strike France is to experience in years was agreed by workers’ unions displeased by President Macron’s plans for a universal points-based pension system.

In the meantime, authorities have been trying to arrange plans in order to mediate and mitigate the disruption.

The BBC reports that the strike is expected to run beyond Thursday while some union leaders warned they will continue industrial action until Mr Macron discards his campaign promise to restructure the retirement system.

One opinion poll found that public support for the strikes stood at 69 per cent, with the most resolute backing coming from 18-34-year-olds.

President Macron will want to avoid a repeat of 1995 when a general strike regarding pension reforms brought the country to its knees after the transport system was crippled for close to three weeks. That strike drew massive support and forced the Government of the day to reverse its plans.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said “we know there will be lots of people in these protests and we know the risks. I have requested that systematically, when there is rioting or violence, we make arrests immediately”.

A number of yellow-vest protesters known as "gilets jaunes" said they plan to join the demonstrations.

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