January 19, 2023 10:54 AM CST BY ROGER MCKENZIE – https://www.peoplesworld.org/
Firefighters demonstrate against pension changes, Thursday, January 19, 2023 in Lille, northern France | AP
France ground to a halt today as workers went on strike over pensions changes that would see the state retirement age pushed up by two years to 64.
Transport, schools and oil refinery shipments were all disrupted by the stoppage against the attack on pensions by President Emannuel Macron’s government.
Unions say the government’s plans will punish women and those who started working at a young age or have physically demanding jobs.
Philippe Martinez, the general secretary of the left-wing CGT union center, said the pension plan “bundles together everyone’s dissatisfaction” with the government, and the rare united front among worker representatives showed “the problem is very serious.”
He called the pension changes “unjust, dogmatic and ideological.”
More than 200 marches and rallies were held across the country, including a massive demonstration of around 100,000 in Paris.
At the Paris rally Laurent Berger, leader of France’s biggest union center the CFDT, said: “This problem can be solved in a different way: through taxation. Workers should not have to pay for the public sector deficit.”
At the same rally in Paris, retired firefighter Michel Liger said: “My children shouldn’t have to work longer than me,” adding that the government should instead tackle what he called the “real problems” such as healthcare.
French Communist Party general secretary Fabien Roussel hailed the strike, saying: “Everywhere in France, the French are responding to the call.
“Everywhere in France, we are mobilized to say no to this pension reform.
“Everywhere in France, today and as long as it takes, we are ready to bring down this reform.”
The Communist Party of Britain tweeted solidarity greetings, saying: “The real wealth creators have brought the EU-member country to a standstill.”
Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt defended the changes, telling LCI TV today: “This reform is necessary and fair.”