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Retiring in Style: French Strike Rocks Schools and Trains!

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A nationwide strike is currently underway in France in response to President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64. Eight major unions are participating in the strike, causing disruptions in schools, public transportation, and oil refineries. The strike comes after more than a million people participated in the first wave of protests earlier this month. The Macron government is pushing ahead with its pension reform despite polls showing that two-thirds of voters are against the changes. The government will need support from both the ruling party’s MPs and the right-wing Republicans as they do not hold a majority in parliament.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon predicts an even greater turnout for this second wave of protests and street demonstrations are expected in cities and towns throughout France. Over 11,000 police have been deployed to cover the events.

Transportation has been greatly impacted in the Paris area, with only one-third of high-speed trains running and limited metro lines operating. TotalEnergies oil refineries and fuel depots have seen at least three-quarters of workers participating in the strike, according to the CGT union. Half of all nursery and primary school teachers are also on strike, with high school students staging protests outside of schools and university students occupying Sciences Po university in Paris in support of the strikers.

According to Sciences Po political scientist Bruno Palier, many French people are feeling that working is becoming increasingly difficult and do not want to continue working under these conditions. The government has indicated that it may make some changes to the details of the reform, but has refused to back down on the main goal of increasing the retirement age to 64. Economist Philippe Aghion believes the reforms are necessary as France has a structural deficit of €13bn and increasing the retirement age will help improve employment rates. The reforms will also provide credibility for the government to make necessary investments in areas such as education, healthcare, and green industrialization.

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