France set for ‘Black Thursday’ nationwide strike over pension reforms

Protesters hold a banner that reads “Retirement is at 60” at a pension reform demonstration in Nice, France, September 29, 2022.

Massive mayhem is ahead in France, as unions and protesters call for a “Black Thursday” countrywide strike over the government’s pension plans this week.

The day of protest will be the first significant challenge that will establish the extent of the public’s will to pressure French President Emmanuel Macron to back down on plans to increase the official retirement age. To this end, French union leaders have urged for “massive mobilization.”

Three-quarters of teachers are anticipated to join the strike, disrupting schools, transportation, and healthcare services. Most trains will not operate, the Paris metro services will be significantly impacted, and flights are expected to be canceled. Truck drivers, couriers, petroleum refinery workers, and delivery businesses have all announced they will be joining the strikes.

For the first time in 12 years, unions have overcome their often adversarial relationships and found a common cause as union leaders declared that Thursday will be the “first day of mobilization” demanding the “unfair and unnecessary” pension plans be dropped.

1 in 2 French people want ‘new protest movement’: Survey

As the specifics of the French government’s contentious new pension reform proposal emerge, a poll indicated that 52% of those polled want to see France face a “social explosion” in the coming months, with the formation of a “Yellow Vests-type movement.”

This is the finding of a study conducted by the French polling institute Ifop, which also discovered that 79% of respondents believe that the scenario of an impending “social explosion,” including a new protest movement, is plausible.

It is worth noting that the results are considered the second-highest figures ever recorded by the polling institute since it was created in 1998.

Only in November 2020 did the figure rise above 85%. It was due to the government’s harsh coronavirus restrictions, including a second lockdown, at the time.

48% of French people are “outraged” over the country’s economic and social situation, as per the latest survey.

Only 32% stated they are “resigned” to the situation, while only 18% are “confident.”

In a similar context, Philippe Martinez, head of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), France’s leading trade union, has lately warned that France will see a wave of mass strikes in early 2023 if the government does not roll back its pension reform.

Source: Al Mayadeen

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