Crucial week in France's pension reform protests

Another day of mass protests planned for France, the day the draft bill is to be presented to the Council of Ministers

This is a crucial week for the pension reforms protests in France, leading up to the presentation of a draft bill to the Council of Ministers.

Unions have promised to up their opposition to the plans in the final few days, with ports, public transport and court services among the services disrupted ahead of another planned day of mass protests on Friday.

In a repeat of last week's port blockades, dock workers are set to down tools for what the CGT has termed a 72-hour 'dead ports' operation from January 22. Pickets will be maintained at in Dunkirk, Le Havre, Rouen, Nantes-Saint-Nazaire, La Rochelle, Bordeaux and Marseille.

Meanwhile, it may be slightly more difficult to withdraw cash from banks in some parts of the country, as Banque de France deliveries will be disrupted due to protests. Security guards and operators responsible for sorting banknotes were also on strike on 15 January at the La Courneuve cash centre (Seine-Saint-Denis) and the Vic-Le-Comte paper mill (Puy-de-Dôme).

Read more: Pension strikes: French PM offers concession on age

Rail services remain disrupted as they have since the first day of the protests on December 5, though SNCF has reported that TGV, TER and Thalys services were due to operate normally on Monday, while eight out of 10 Transilien and Intercité trains were running.

The pressure on public transport in the capital is also easing, RATP reported, after the Union nationale des syndicats autonomes (UNSA) voted to 'redirect' its protests away from the unlimited strikes 'to engage in another form of action'. All metro lines, except line 13, were running improved services on Monday.

In the courts, however, the Conseil national des barreaux, which represents France's 70,000 lawyers, has decided to renew its strike, which began in early January and has hit court operations nationwide.

Further protests are forecast from January 22 as unions across a number of professions plan action leading up to a seventh day of 'mass protests' on Friday, January 24, the day the Council of Ministers examines the draft pension reforms bill.

The last mass protest, on Thursday 16 January, brought together 187,000 demonstrators in France, including 23,000 in Paris, according to the Interior Ministry. The CGT reported that it had counted 250,000 demonstrators in the capital alone.

A count by the independent firm Occurrence for a pool of media outlets said that 28,000 people were on the streets of Paris.

Read more: Cost of France's six-week strike tops €1billion

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