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05.01.2020 Europe

Unions, Yellow Vests stage second united Saturday of pension reform protests

REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
LISTEN JAN 5, 2020
REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Several thousand people demonstrated on Saturday in Paris demanding the withdrawal of government plans to overhaul the French pension system. Demonstrators, some wearing yellow vests, marched carrying banners and chanting for French President Emmanuel Macron to scrap his reform project.

Demonstrations and strikes against French plans to reform the pension system entered their 31st day on Saturday, leaving the previous 1986-7 record of 28 consecutive days of strikes behind.

Active opposition to the government plans started on December 5 with a public transport strike affecting suburban trains, metro, bus and tram lines in the Paris region, causing massive problems for people to get to work.

In the southern city of Marseille, a few hundred people demonstrated, while in the southwestern town of Toulouse dozens of Yellow Vests, who have been demonstrating since November 2018 against the government's fiscal and social policy, entered a station while some occupied tracks in support of the striking railway workers.

A cooperation of the most powerful trade unions, CGT, FO, CFE-CGC, Solidaires and FSU requests the withdrawal of the governments' pension reform plans, which provides for the merger of the 42 existing plans -including special plans that allow train drivers to take early retirement- into one universal plan that is applicable to everybody, regardless the specification of his or her job.

The government does promise a "fairer" system for everybody, but opponents of the reforms say the policy will result in a higher age of retirement and lower pensions.

According to an opinion poll by pollster Odoxa published Friday, a majority of 61 percent of those questioned still support the strike, five points lower than a December 19 survey.

Unions have called another day of mass demonstrations for January 9, when teachers, hospital workers and others are expected to join the strike.

(with wires)

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