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14.01.2020 Europe

More transporation chaos and delays expected as France's strike enters day 41

By RFI with Anne-Marie Bissada
Reuters/Charles Platiau
LISTEN JAN 14, 2020

Parisian metro lines were nearly all running on Monday, but only during peak hours, ensuring another day of frustrating travels for those in the capital as the nationwide strike continues with more woes expected as it enters its 41st day on Tuesday.

Despite small improvements to the flow of public transportation in Paris, the regional transport company RATP asked commuters to find alternative means of getting around as the trains, trams and buses continue to be jammed with people.

National rail operator SNCF announced that eight of ten high-speed TGV train were operating, but regional trains still remain affected providing more intermittent service.

It also added that the number striking staffers had fallen to 4.3 percent; the lowest rate since the strike began on 5 December.

Pivot age
Over the weekend, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that he would drop plans for a “pivot age” that would raise the official age for a full pension from 62 to 64; a major point of contention by many of the unions.

President Emmanuel Macron applauded that move calling it a “constructive and responsible compromise,” as did the more moderate union the CFDT.

But the more hardline unions of CGT, FO and Solidaires were not impressed by that change, and have called for another major demonstration on Thursday.

"When you can't convince with ideas you use good old-fashioned methods like repression," said CGT leader Philippe Martinez as he denounced Philippe's comments.

He described the concession announced by the premier as no more than a "smokescreen… to make us work longer."

42 existing pensions
"The end of the pivot age does not mean the end of the strike," said Laurent Beranger, head of the CFDT in an interview with RTL Radio.

"We are far from being at the end of this story on the universal system for pensions and we will need to keep up the pressure," added Berger.

Central to the strike is the reform of the current 42 pension plans to be made into one universal system.

The strike has continued to spread outside the transportation sector, with lawyers and staff at the Paris Opera joining in the movement.

Photo from a tweet showing lawyers from the Order of Lawyers in Lyon striking on Monday.

The first performance of 2020 set for Saturday at the Paris Garnier was cancelled.

French climber Alain Robert, known as France's "Spiderman," made his own contribution to support the protests on Monday by climbing up a towering skyscraper just outside Paris in the La Defense business district.

"I'm 57, so technically not far from retirement. And climbing is the only way I make money," Robert said before being detained after his illicit 52-minute climb.

"Will I have to keep climbing solo until I'm 64? Or even 67?" he added.

Europe

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