Pressure mounts as anti-pension reform protests continue: France
In order to keep the system from going into a deficit, the French government deems it essential to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 and to stiffen the requirements for a full pension.
French unions pressed a standoff with the government due to pensions overhaul with fuel deliveries, trains, and flights disrupted for a second day after mass rallies took place.
Key sea ports were blockaded as dock workers took part in the strike aimed to convince President Emmanuel Macron to reconsider the decision.
In order to keep the system from going into a deficit, the government deems it essential to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 and to stiffen the requirements for a full pension.
Read more: 200+ strikes planned as French government insists on pension reform
Other European counties have a retirement age of 65 or above, while France lags behind still. Nevertheless, French unions opposed the decision, calling it unfair.
As such, unions called for an urgent meeting with the President after the decision was made, and strikes hobbled the country with 1.28 million people protesting recently in the streets, according to official figures.
Applying extra pressure
National coordinator of the CGT union federation at energy giant TotalEnergies, Eric Sellini, said workers at most fuel shipping sites are on strike again on Wednesday morning.
The General Confederation of Labor said the strike was necessary to "put extra pressure on the government."
As for the transport sector, more than half of the high-speed trains were canceled with only one train operating between provinces, slightly affecting international rail travel.
Twenty percent of Air France flights did not take off, creating more hassle at airports as air traffic controllers keep up their strikes.
Dock workers prevented access to some ports including hubs of Marseille on the Mediterranean and Le Havre on the Channel, the CGT said. Port blockages also prevented deliveries of natural gas by sea.
Government responds to strikes
Government Spokesperson Olivier Veran said on Wednesday that officials are open to dialogue as the decision goes to the parliament.
"The government's door is more than open," Veran told RTL radio. But "we respect the institutions," he said. "The government and prime minister are leading the text through parliament."
The reform is currently being debated. The government hopes to be able to push the bill forward with the right's support without having to resort to controversial mechanisms that would bypass a parliamentary vote but risk sparking more anger among voters.
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