The battle against the French government's pension reform is not simply just another protest movement. Three crucial issues are at stake here: social, democratic and civilisational, as shown by the exceptional unity among trade unions opposed to the changes, argues Mediapart’s publishing editor Edwy Plenel in this op-ed article. All the more reason, he writes, to put all our energy into supporting this combat.
In an interview with The Guardian, Philippe Martinez, head of one of France's biggest cross-trades unions and which has spearheaded the opposition to Emmanuel Macron's plans to reform the pension scheme, said the French president 'is so sure of himself, but he’s playing with fire', warning that the 'rancour' created by the reforms will be paid by the government 'one day or another'.
A government-commissioned report on France's railway sector has put reform of the employment status and supposedly “exorbitant privileges” of the country's railway workers firmly at the centre of the political agenda. These changes would themselves save around 100 million to 150 million euros in savings over ten years – a modest amount compared with the massive debts of the train operator SNCF. But as Martine Orange reports, the French presidency's real aim is to win a political battle by getting pubic opinion on its side.
Many oil refinery workers, rail workers and aviation staff are on strike or set to go out on strike as France suffers fuel shortages and a power struggle between the government and those opposed to controversial labour law reforms. Union activists have criticised the “extremely violent” actions of the state in removing the blockade at the Fos-sur-Mer oil refinery in the south of France. But despite the growing impact of their industrial action, union militants admit that they will not continue the action on their own indefinitely without the help of workers in other sectors. Mathilde Goanec reports.