France is in the midst of one of its biggest strikes in decades, which is taking place today (January 19), as trade unions and opposition parties strongly reject President Emmanual Macron’s pensions reform.
French unions have threatened to cut off electricity supplies to billionaires and lawmakers as the opposition fuels anger against the president’s plans.
So far, trains have ground to a halt, schools have been shut, and businesses largely disrupted as workers walk out of their jobs in the hopes of derailing the new planned pension reform.
Why is France striking?
France’s CGT union has said it is hoping to bring the whole country to a standstill to protest the pension reform.
This government’s reform of the pension system would delay the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030.
Who is striking in France?
The national strike is taking place among sectors including transport, education, and energy, and has been described as a test of whether unions could transform the opposition into mass social protest.
The plan, which was unveiled last week, eliminates most of the current special regimes and was majorly voted against by workers in the opinion poll, as many are already suffering during the cost-of-living crisis.
Leader of the CGT union, Philippe Martinez, spoke at Public Senat TV and said: “This issue of pensions channels all the discontentment.
He added: “Today is going to be a very big day of mobilisation.”
The French government has stated that raising the retirement age is a necessity to help tackle a pension funding deficit.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, France has spent around 14 per cent of GDP on state pensions, which is more than most other countries.
As part of the proposed reform overhaul, the number of years of contributions needed for a full pension will also rise faster than previously planned, being set at 43 years from 2027.
“I suggest they also go see the nice properties, the nice castles of billionaires,” said Martinez to France 2 television.
“It would be good if we cut off their electricity so that they can put themselves, for a few days, in the shoes of... French people who can’t afford to pay their bills.”