Largest strike in decades gets under way in France in response to Macron’s plan to do a pension reform. Railway and metro stations in Paris were largely deserted today.
The SNCF state railway says only one in 10 commuter and high-speed TGV trains will run. Train operators Eurostar and Thalys have cancelled at least half their services linking Paris with London and Brussels. Riot police deployed along the boutique-lined Champs-Elysees boulevard. The civil aviation authority asked airlines to cancel around 20 per cent of flights because of knock-on effects from the strike. More than half of all primary and secondary teachers are expected to walk out and hospital emergency rooms nationwide will operate on thin staffing. The most bad thing - transport unions have set no end date for the strike. Protesters scheduled a march from the capital's Gare du Nord train station to Place de la Nation.
Empty train station today
Some 6,000 police were deployed, including dozens of rapid-response officers on motorbikes. The strikes follow months of sometimes violent "yellow vest" protests. Fact is that under the current system, authorities face a total pension deficit slated to reach between €8bn and €17bn by 2025. They need solution. President Macron wants to merge the country’s 42 existing pension schemes into a single regime all in all, resulting in likely benefit cuts for millions.