French commuters gritted their teeth on the ninth day of a crippling public transport strike yesterday, pinning their hopes for an end to the daily misery on the government’s offer of fresh negotiations with unions over a contested pensions overhaul.
Many travellers are reconsidering their holiday travel plans as unions stood united in their opposition to the government’s plans to fuse the country’s 42 pension schemes into a single, points-based system.
“It is very complicated,” 23-year-old child carer Elsa told AFP at Paris’ Gare de Lyon station, complaining of the overcrowded trains. Every day since the strike started, she has had to get up early to not miss her train into town, then walk a long way to work.
“If this (the strike) goes on, I will have to keep doing this. It is exhausting, but I have no choice. Not all work can be done from home.”
The overhaul unveiled by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe this week angered even the moderate CFDT union by proposing a reduced payout for people who retire at the legal age of 62 instead of a so-called “pivot age” of 64 -- a “red line” for unions.
They called for new mass demonstrations for Tuesday, the third since the action started on December 5 in the biggest show of strength in years by France’s notoriously militant unions, which have vowed to continue fighting through the holidays if necessary.