PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron’s push to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 continues to meet mass resistance by workers across the country. March 7 was the sixth day of strikes and protests since mid-January, with at least 1.4 million people joining 260 demonstrations.
The CGT union federation says 700,000 protested here in the capital alone. Refuse workers went on strike for a week in half the city’s districts.
“They are quite right to strike,” pastry chef Romain Gaia told France24, despite trash piling up on the streets. “Normally they have no power, but if they stop work they really have.”
Some unions have called several days of strikes shutting down the ports of Le Havre, Marseille, Calais, Rouen and Brest, as well as some railroads, refineries and nuclear power plants. Airports had to cut flights by up to 30% and electrical production has been cut by 20 gigawatts, forcing authorities to purchase power supplies from abroad.
Actions have spread to small towns and rural areas. In Bagnols-sur-Ceze, population 18,000, high school students joined a demonstration of more than 2,000. In Ales, population 40,000, nonunion workers in supermarkets and nursing homes joined rail workers and retired miners in demonstrations of 7,000.
Macron refuses to meet with the Intersyndicale, the group of eight union federations that called the action.