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WORLD

French Protesters Hold More Strikes over Pension Changes

February 7, 2023

PARIS — Public transportation, schools and electricity, oil and gas supplies were disrupted on Tuesday in France as demonstrators were taking to the streets for a third round of nationwide strikes and protests against the government’s pension reform plans.

The demonstrations come a day after the debate on the bill started at parliament.

Last week, an estimated 1.27 million people demonstrated, according to authorities, more than in the first big protest day on Jan. 19. More demonstrations, called by France’s eight main unions, were planned for Saturday.

Rail operator SNCF said train traffic was severely disrupted Tuesday across the country, including on its high-speed network. International lines to Britain and Switzerland were affected. The Paris metro was also disrupted.

Power producer EDF said the protest movement led to temporarily reducing electricity supplies, without causing blackouts. More than half of the workforce was on strike at the TotalEnergies refineries, according to the company.

Many teachers were also on strike in parts of France, including in Paris, while some other regions were on school break.

French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to go ahead with the changes, despite opinion polls showing growing opposition.

A heated debate started on Monday at parliament, as more than 20,000 amendments have been proposed by opposition lawmakers — mostly by the left-wing Nupes coalition.

The bill would gradually increase the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030 and accelerate a planned measure providing that people must have worked for at least 43 years to be entitled to a full pension, among other measures.

The debate at the National Assembly and the Senate is expected to last several weeks.

 

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