France braces for a winter of strikes

Plans for pension reform brought millions on to the streets in 1995. Pension changes again brought protests in 2007 (as pictured)

  • Call for unlimited action from December 5
  • February 3 walk-out date for other workers
  • Gilets jaunes to join union action for first time

A mass strike involving millions of public service workers has been called for December 5 in protest at government pension reform plans.

Some unions are calling for unlimited action, some for repeated strike days, and others for just the one day of protest. December 5 has already been dubbed Black Thursday.

An unwritten rule in France is that if the police count a million people marching during a protest, the government will drop its plans.

In 1995, strikes over pension reform brought two million on to the streets and the government cancelled its plans.

Polls in the first half of November showed 60% of the public behind the strikers, who say they are ready to “take as long as it takes”.

The question is: will President Macron back down over the reforms, which would replace France’s 42 so-called ‘special regimes’ and their enhanced pension rights for some, with a universal system as he pledged in the election?

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