The President of Protests
France today enters its seventh day of nationwide protests which have ground key national industry to a halt including railway, air-traffic, and the fire service, making the gilet jaunes protests look like a school field trip.
Given France’s track record on strikes, you could be fooled to overlook the reason for the strike. After all, per 1000 French workers 171 days are lost over Industrial action, compared to only 12 for an equivalent number of 1000 German workers.
But this time is different. Macron, who seems to be unable to resist enraging his public sector, has proposed a revision to the pension system which is fiercely opposed by many. No fewer than 82% of train drivers are on strike leaving only 10% of national rail links operational and 11 out of 16 metro lines in Paris closed. As anyone who’s visited Paris will know, the metro is horrific at the best of times so it really is surprising that it can indeed get worse.
Tourists have reported being unable to see the Eiffel Tower after being turned away at the ticket office… if only it were more prominent in the skyline.
Yet the government is still not backing down, and Édouard Phillippe (the French Prime Minister) has vowed to stand strong when he announces the details of the changes today though it is speculated that they might offer some token concessions to the protestors.
President Macron remains confident that he will keep his voter base supportive by staying strong on this issue. He wants to unify the 42 ‘special’ regimes for pensions which cater to a range of different professions. This, he argues, will keep the system viable for the future. If convincing enough, he may have just bought himself a strike-free Christmas.