Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) French unions are stepping up the fight against the announced pension reform and have announced strikes without a set end date.
Energy sector workers, teachers, train drivers and industrial workers are to join strikes tomorrow as part of the unions’ push against government plans to up the retirement age from 62 to 64, according to France24 reporting on Monday.
Unlike previous strikes, the announced industrial action does not have a set end date as union members will vote at the end of each day whether to continue the strike.
Unions hope that the strikes have the potential to threaten the economy severely enough to force the government into submission and scrap the planned reform.
Sébastien Ménesplier, head of the CGT Energie union confederation, announced walkouts would continue “at the minimum until the 7th and at the maximum until we win.”
Union representatives warned that power generation in France would continue to decline to force the government to back down, with Ménesplier stressing “if [French President] Emmanuel Macron doesn’t want France to come to a standstill and a dark week for the energy industry, it would be better for him to withdraw his reforms.”
Students are to join high school and university staff in protests announced for tomorrow, with large education unions calling for “total closure” of schools.
Transport authorities warned about possible disruptions in Paris, noting that national transport companies are expecting major strikes and reminding that walkouts in December 2019 brought public transport to a halt.
Unions reiterated that announced strikes are aimed at forcing France to grind to a halt, with police expecting between 60,000 and 90,000 protesters in Paris alone. Ménesplier announced union members were prepared to “bring the French economy to its knees” to achieve their political goals.
The government has been trying to dissuade strikers, with Gabriel Attal, Minister of Public Action and Accounts, warning that strikes could harm workers more than the economy and calling on unions to act responsibly.
Asked to comment on strikes on Saturday as he wrapped up his African tour, Macron had “nothing new to say” on the issue.