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Paris grinds to a halt as transport workers strike against Macron's pension grab

SCABS on scooters were seen whizzing across Paris today as transport workers on the city network walked out on strike over planned pension reforms.

Ten of the French capital’s 16 Metro lines were shut down in the biggest strike since 2007 as workers launched their first major action against President Emmanuel Macron’s reforms.

Officials reported more than 235km (145 miles) of traffic jams in the Paris region, more than double the normal levels as many workers stayed at home.

Transport operators, including ATP’s e-moped and Uber’s e-bike and scooter networks, offered limited free rides to try to beat the strike as workers were seen scooting across the city.

Uber’s taxi-hailing service saw a price surge, with a ride across the city reported to have shot up to €100 (£90), about three times the usual fare.

The dispute will be another major test for Mr Macron, whose popularity slid dramatically during the yellow vests protests, and which are still ongoing.

He plans to introduce a single points-based pension system, but transport unions warn that it would force them to work longer and would weaken their current terms and conditions of employment.

Workers retire earlier under an agreement negotiated by the unions because of the nature of their work, which involved long hours underground.

The average retirement age for public transit workers is 55.7, compared with 63 for other French workers.

CFE-CGC union spokesman Frederic Ruiz described the strike as “a shot across the boughs” for Mr Macron’s reforms.

Mr Macron’s pension reforms are being introduced at the behest of the European Union, which requires France to reduce its public debt and cut public spending.

Last year France announced plans to break up the SNCF state railway system and undermine workers’ terms and conditions in preparation for an EU requirement to offer the network to private companies.


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