France prepares for more Strikes: Failure of Negotiations on the Pension ReformEU | April 6, 2023, Thursday // 09:15| views
France is bracing for a new round of nationwide protests and strikes on Thursday after a meeting between the prime minister and unions failed to break the deadlock over a deeply unpopular pension reform bill, Reuters reported.
Protests against the reform - which raises the retirement age by two years to 64 - have drawn hundreds of thousands of people to rallies organized by unions since January. At times there was violence.
Union groups vowed not to back down after talks with Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on Wednesday - which lasted just an hour - failed to calm the situation.
They said the only way out of the crisis was to withdraw the legislation, an option Bourne strongly rejected.
"After this meeting, I call on the maximum number of workers, men and women, to join the marches in France tomorrow," Laurent Berger, head of the country's largest union CFDT, said on Wednesday.
Thursday's marches - the 11th day of protests in the past three months - could give an indication of whether the protracted rallies are losing steam or gaining momentum. The previous day of demonstrations on March 28 drew fewer people, according to the Interior Ministry, with 740,000 protesters across the country compared to a record 1.09 million on March 23.
Paris public transport operator RATP predicts that traffic will be almost normal on Thursday. Trains are expected to experience more disruption, and civil aviation authorities have asked airlines to reduce flights by 20% to cities such as Bordeaux and Marseille, but not Paris airports as before.
About 20 percent of elementary school teachers are also expected to join the strike, according to the SNUipp-FSU union, cited by local media, down from 30 percent on March 28.
Strikes continue to disrupt work at oil refineries and nuclear power plants, while garbage collectors have vowed to resume their protest from next week.
The latest wave of demonstrations represents the most serious challenge to President Emmanuel Macron, who is on a state visit to China, since the "yellow vest" protests four years ago. Polls show a large majority of French people oppose the pension legislation and the government's decision to push it through parliament without a vote.
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