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.
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.
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.
Delays and cancellations were announced on Monday to Eurostar services at the Paris Gare du Nord terminal as French customs officers went on strike over what they said was poor planning for the demands of post-Brexit operations, a movement which also affected several airports around the country.
One of the several railway workers' unions that have held two-day rolling strikes since April against the French government's reforms of the state-run network, ahead of the introduction of private competition, has vowed to continue the disruption despite parliament's final approval of the reforms on Thursday.
French railways operator SNCF has warned that the latest in a series of rolling two-day strikes will cause severe disruption to services on Monday, as unions heighten protest action against planned government reforms to prepare for the introduction of private competition on the railways and an end to job contract protections.
After one year in office during which he has largely escaped any significant popular or political hostilities, French President Emmanuel Macron this month has seen a souring in public mood, his standing sliding in opinion polls amid a series of different social protests and strike action, all pointing to a new chapter of his five-year term in office.
One of three French navy frigates taking part with the US and Britain in last weekend's strikes against chemical weapons sites in Syria found itself unable to launch its cruise missiles, the first time France had employed them in action, requiring one of the other vessels to take over its role and fire its own missiles, this time successfully, against the designated targets.
Unions representing Air France staff, who have held seven days of strike action in support of a demand for a 6% pay increase have announced further stoppages this month, recommencing on Tuesday when the airline predicts 30 percent of flights will be cancelled overall.
As student protests and sit-ins gather momentum, railway services are disrupted with rolling strike action, and unrest simmers among healthcare staff and the legal professions, the May 1968 revolt that paralysed France and caused General de Gaulle to flee to Ireland was, say some observers, very different because it was inspired by hope and not the ambient pessimism of 2018.
French President Emmanuel Macron appeared in a lengthy interview on national television on Thursday, speaking from a school classroom in a village in north-west France, when he said that despite protests over his railways reforms, and also growing opposition to reforms of university selection procedures and the justice system, he and his government will stand firm with its policies 'because the world around us is speeding up, going through great changes, and because our country must be able to choose its destiny and live better'.