Strike Over Pension Reform Paralyzes Public Transport in Paris

  • Unlike the Yellow Vests, a movement without a leader, the unions are leading this protest.
  • The Autonomous Operator of Parisian Transportation (RAPT) is one of the many companies in which employees enjoy a special pension system.
  • According to the proposals under discussion, the reform could either raise retirement age to 64, or increase the number of contributed years needed to retire.

The wave of protests against the French President, Emmanuel Macron, opened this Friday with a strike on public transport in Paris. The reason is pension reform, which can lead to an extension of working time and a loss of benefits for some professions. Ten of the 16 subway lines in the capital stopped working, as well as two-thirds of buses and a good part of the suburban trains. Macron and his Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, hope to diffuse this and other protests through a broad social dialogue before the approval of the reform next summer.

The yellow vests movement, or yellow jackets movement, were a series of protests in France that began in October 2018. The movement is motivated by rising fuel prices and a high cost of living.

After the atypical revolt of the Yellow Vests, which marked the French political winter, social protests returned to France in the traditional way. Unlike the Yellow Vests, a movement without a leader, it is now the unions that assume the loudest voice. The claim is concrete. It is about curbing, or at least influencing, the process to reform the pension system, a big promise of Macron. The government wants to merge into one of the 42 pension schemes currently in force, and another depending on the status or profession. Many French people fear that this means working more for less.

The workers of the RATP (French acronym for the Autonomous Transport Company of Paris) struck with a similar impact in 2007. The trigger was also a reform of the special pension scheme. This Friday’s strike caused traffic jams of more than 200 kilometers on roads and highways and altered the daily life in the capital. Without a metro, Paris is another city. Only two lines worked at full capacity. According to the RATP, 12 million trips are made every day in its transport network. The rental of bicycles and scooters skyrocketed, according to data cited by Le Parisien.

The RATP Group (Autonomous Operator of Parisian Transportation) is a state-owned public transport operator and maintainer headquartered in Paris, France. Formed in 1949, it has its origins as the city’s public transport operator.

RATP is one of the many companies in which employees enjoy a special pension system. They retire on average at 55 years, although some can do so after 50 years and 8 months. The legal retirement age in France today is 62 years. According to the proposals under discussion, the reform could either raise it to 64 years, or increase the number of contributed years needed to retire.

The Paris transport strike is the first in a series of demonstrations against pension reform. The GGT and Force Ouvriere unions have called for demonstrations against government initiatives. In the coming weeks, lawyers, doctors and nurses, pilots and flight attendants, police officers and conservative activists are scheduled to protest against the bioethics law. To all these groups, with a weakened parliamentary opposition, and Macron rising in the polls, the street aspires once again to act as a counter-power.

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Doris Mkwaya

I am a journalist, with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, author, editor, and journalism lecturer." I've worked as a reporter, editor and journalism lecturer, and am very enthusiastic about bringing what I've learned to this site. 

 


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