- Title: 'We're taken hostage': Commuters complain on 13th day of pension reform strikes
- Date: 17th December 2019
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (DECEMBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF CROWD OF COMMUTERS AT MONTPARNASSE TRAIN STATION SCREEN READING (French): "NO PASSENGERS ON THIS TRAIN" COMMUTERS WALKING WITH LUGGAGE RAIL WORKER SPEAKING WITH COMMUTERS COMMUTERS AT STATION
- Embargoed: 31st December 2019 09:25
- Keywords: Christmas break France strike Paris commuters pension reform protest transport strike unions
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Lawmaking,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA004BAD6TL3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: French trade unions on Tuesday (December 17) used transport strikes and mass protests to try to force President Emmanuel Macron to ditch a planned pension reform before the Christmas holidays.
With a nationwide movement of rolling strikes and protests beginning to tail off as it enters a second week, unions are hoping to regain momentum by bringing hundreds of thousands of demonstrators back out onto the street on Tuesday.
Former investment banker Macron has said he wants to streamline the Byzantine state pension system with its tangle of special privileges, and use incentives to encourage people to work until 64, instead of the current average retirement age of 62.
Eight of Paris' 14 metro lines are closed and the rest have a limited service, apart from two lines that run automated trains, with suburban commuter trains also heavily disrupted. Roads were thick on Tuesday morning with pedestrians, bicycles and electric scooters as people tried to get to work.
The unions and Macron are each hoping to push the other to back down before Christmas, with the prospect that continuing strikes over the holiday would alienate an increasingly frustrated public.
Parisian commuter Johann Boyet told Reuters he felt like the strike had taken him hostage: "It wasn't me that started the pension reform, but I feel like I've been taken hostage. It's frustration turning to annoyance."
Opponents of the pension reform have been buoyed by the departure of the government's pension reform tsar, Jean-Paul Delevoye. He stepped down on Monday (December 16) after it emerged he had failed to publicly declare more than a dozen posts he held in addition to his main job.
French State Secretary of Transport Jean-Baptiste Djebarri reassured travellers that "more than 50 percent" of all commuters would be able to take the train to rejoin their families during the holiday rush.
Unions are slated to take part in protests across France on Tuesday.
(Production: Marc Detemple, Manuel Ausloos, Ardee Napolitano)
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