France is volatile in protests
France was set to be paralyzed Thursday (Dec.5) 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 Easy Jet 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 paralyzed 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.
On the Paris metro, 11 of the city’s 16 lines will shut down completely Thursday, with only the two fully automated lines running as normal.
It would do away with 42 “special regimes” for sectors ranging from rail and energy workers to lawyers and Paris Opera employees, which often grant workers higher pensions or early retirement.