France's pensions strike enters third week
... with no end in sight
Strikes against pension reform plans in France entered their third week on Thursday with no apparent end in sight, despite steps from the government to break the deadlock.
President Emmanuel Macron revealed he would be willing to 'improve' elements of his proposed pension reform, including the controversial 'pivot age' after a meeting with unions ended without a solution on Wednesday.
Talks were expected to resume on Thursday, but unions have warned they will continue the public transport strike through the Christmas holiday period if necessary.
The talks began after another day of mass protests against the government's reform plans. According to Ministry of Interior figures, 650,000 people joined marches across the country on Tuesday. The CGT union put the figure at 1.8million.
Meanwhile, commuters and travellers face continued struggles, with two in five of normal highspeed TGV services running on Thursday, while four in five low-cost Ouigo services were operating.
Just one in six Intercités were operating, along with four in 10 local TER trains - though some were replacement bus services, while international rail routes such as Eurostar are also operating on reduced schedules.
In Paris, the 3bis, 5, 6, 7bis, 12 and 13 metro lines were closed, while lines 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 were operating reduced, rush-hour only operations. Some stations on those lines were closed. RER lines were offering reduced services and about 60% of buses were operating.
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