French president calls for ‘rapid compromise’ in attempt to end four-week-long protests but his address to the nation was dismissed as a 'declaration of war against millions of French people who reject his reforms'.
After weeks of union-led strikes and protests against government plans to reform France's pension system, and which have severely disrupted transport services, notably in the Greater Paris Region, French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to finally relieve his prime minister on the political frontline by announcing measures to break the deadlock during the traditional presidential New Year's Eve TV address on Tuesday.
The rolling strikes of French transport workers, and notably railways staff, which began in early December as part of national union-led protests against the government's plans to reform the pension system, on Friday became the longest since the winter of 1986 – and threaten to become the longest ever as talks are not set to resume until January 7th.
Paris Opera dancers, who have a bespoke pension plan dating back to the 17th century, gave an impromptu public performance of Swan Lake on the forecourt of the Palais Garnier in central Paris, with the backing of the Paris Symphony Orchestra, in a protest at President Emmanuel Macron's plan to introduce a universal pension scheme.
French railways operator SNCF has finally reopened Christmas chaperoned train services for unaccompanied minors which had been cancelled because of continuing strike action against proposed pension reforms, which was notably due to affect children from divorced couples living far apart.
President Emmanuel Macron, 42, has announced that he will forgo his future head-of-state pension in an effort to be 'exemplary and coherent' amid the standoff with unions which reject his proposed universal pension reforms that would put an end to some relatively advantageous retirement rights.
Official estimates said estimated 150,000 homes, as well as businesses, suffered power cuts during Tuesday's union-led national strikes and protests called against President emmanuel Macron's proposed pensions reform, a strategy that the leader of one of the largest unions defended on Wednesday because 'spitting on the public service can make some of us angry', adding that 'we may amplify these kinds of methods'.
A day of strikes and demonstrations led by trades unions on Tuesday against the French government's planned overhaul of the pensions system mobilised strong support, with unions claiming a nationwide turnout in street marches of 1.8 million people, while interior ministry figures estimated the total numbers at 615,000.
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took part in nationwide union-led protests in France on Tuesday against the government’s proposed reform of the pension system, while strike action disrupted many sectors including transport, education institutions, postal services and power supplies. Meanwhile, the government suffered a severe blow in its showdown with the unions after the forced resignation on Monday of the man regarded as the architect of the reforms, the High Commissioner for Pensions Jean-Paul Delevoye, for having failed to register as required by law ten of his present or recent outside professional activities. Now Mediapart can reveal yet another: his membership until 2017 of the London-based Brazzaville Foundation, which is in effect a propaganda arm for the strongman president of the Republic of the Congo.
With more strikes called for Tuesday by unions opposing his planned reform of France's pension system, President Emmanuel Macron met with ministers on Sunday to discuss details of the draft legislation to be unveiled by his prime minister on Wednesday.
President Emmanuel Macron’s planned reform of the French pension system has run into massive union-led opposition, with a crippling general strike of mostly public sector workers last Thursday, when transport systems were paralysed and an estimated one million people demonstrated nationwide. While some sectors, notably the railways, remained affected this weekend, another national day of action is called for Tuesday. Union officials have declared that nothing less than a total withdrawal of the reform plans can end the dispute, raising the possibility of rolling strikes throughout December. The showdown will depend in part on what support unions can maintain in the key sectors of transport, schools, energy and healthcare.
Demonstrations accompanying rolling strikes against pension reforms that began Thursday and the latest 'Yellow Vest' protests against social inequalities were held over the weekend across France, upping pressure on the government ahead of more walkouts and protests called for next week.
After a general strike on Thursday against planned pension reforms, which were accompanied by massive demonstrations across France, transport systems and education institutions were among the mostly public sectors that continued to be hit by walkouts on Friday, with more strike action called for the weekend and into next week.