POST TIME: 6 December, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Strike to paralyse France in Macron showdown with unions
AFP, Paris

Strike to paralyse France in Macron showdown with unions

People wave the flags of French trade union General Confederation of Labour (CGT) as they take part in a demonstration to protest against the pension overhauls, in southern France yesterday. ( Inset) A man wearing a clown mask and waving a smoke bomb takes part in the protest. AFP Photo

France was set to be paralysed yesterday by a nationwide strike by transport workers, teachers and other professionals in a showdown between unions and President Emmanuel Macron over his planned pension reforms. Some 90 percent of high-speed trains have been axed, most of the Paris metro will be shut, hundreds of flights cancelled and the majority of schools closed in the strike.

With some air traffic controllers also walking out, flag-carrier Air France said it was axing 30 percent of its internal flights and 15 percent of short-haul international routes. British low-cost carrier EasyJet has cancelled 223 domestic and short-haul international flights and warned others risk being delayed.

The strike—which is open-ended and could last several days—has drawn comparisons with the struggle between government and unions in November-December 1995 when the country was paralysed for around three weeks.

Workers across France will have to stay at home or find novel ways to access their offices using car-sharing services, rental bikes or e-scooters. The strikes will be a major test of whether Macron, who came to power on the back of a promise to transform France and has also sought a prominent place on the international stage, has the political strength to push through his vision.