Travel turmoil in France as strike continues

Updated: 07 December, 2019 08:49 IST | Agencies | Paris

Dozens of trains, metros and flights were cancelled, many schools were again closed or offering only daycare, and four of the country's eight oil refineries remained blocked, raising the prospect of fuel shortages

BRAV brigades police walk next to red flares during a demonstration in Paris on Thursday. Pic/AFP
BRAV brigades police walk next to red flares during a demonstration in Paris on Thursday. Pic/AFP

Paris: Travellers faced a second day of chaos across France on Friday as unions pressed on with a strike aimed at forcing President Emmanuel Macron to abandon pension reforms that brought nearly a million people onto the streets.

Dozens of trains, metros and flights were cancelled, many schools were again closed or offering only daycare, and four of the country's eight oil refineries remained blocked, raising the prospect of fuel shortages.

Rail operator SNCF has already halted ticket sales through the weekend, with 90 per cent of high-speed TGV trains again cancelled Friday and little improvement expected over the weekend.

Half of the Eurostar trains between Paris and London have been dropped, and just two of three Thalys trains serving Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam were running. In Paris, nine of the capital's 16 metro lines were shut while many others were running only during rush hours, prompting commuters turning to bicycles, electric scooters etc.

Unions say Macron's proposal for a single pension system, which would eliminate dozens of separate plans for public sector workers, would force millions of people in both the public and private sectors to work well beyond the official retirement age of 62. The government will unveil details of the plan next week but has already said people will have to work longer to maintain a system that could have a deficit of up to 17 billion euros ($19 billion) by 2025.

At least 8,00,000 took part in rallies around the country on Thursday, according to the interior ministry, one of the biggest demonstrations of union strength in nearly a decade.

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First Published: 07 December, 2019 08:40 IST

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