French President Emmanuel Macron (Image: Li Yang/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images)
Upcoming strike action over President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed overhaul of the retirement system could plunge France into commuter chaos ahead of Christmas. The French centrist wants to merge the country’s 42 separate pension schemes into a single, points-based system that treats all workers equally. “I am very afraid of a general strike that would not only paralyse the Paris region, but also plunge millions of commuters into distress,” Mrs Pécresse told France Info radio.
The Paris chief added she had asked the state-owned SNCF railway company and the Paris transport network (RATP) to “guarantee the operation of minimum services during rush hour” and to “demonstrate a spirit of solidarity”.
“The right to strike must be compatible with the right to work,” she continued.
While warning strikers against bringing the country to a standstill, Mrs Pécresse echoed their criticism of the government’s pension plans, saying the reform would “create many losers”.
“The government is caught between a rock and a hard place with this ill-thought-out reform,” she said.
Public anger is brewing over Mr Macron’s plans to simplify the complex and costly pension system, which he says will make it fairer and help plug a stubborn deficit.
Trade unions have called on railway workers, Paris public transport staff, truck drivers and civil servants to send a warning to the Macron government and strike against the pension overhaul on December 5, and in some cases beyond.
Unions say the