Paris metro workers to pause pension strike to 'recharge batteries' and re-orient movement

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By Lauren Chadwick
Paris metro workers to pause pension strike to 'recharge batteries' and re-orient movement
Copyright  AP Photo/Michel Euler

The biggest union for Paris metro workers has said they will pause the strike to allow workers to "recharge".

Many workers - especially in France's transportation sector - have been on strike since December 5 over the government's proposed pension reform plan.

The Unsa-Ratp union said that after "45 days of strikes" a majority of its members had decided to "reform" the consecutive nature of the strike action from Monday. That, it said in a statement released by Le Parisien, was in order "to engage in a different type of action".

The union's secretary-general Laurent Djebali told the newspaper that many workers needed to "breathe a bit and recharge their batteries".

Workers on strike in France do not receive their salaries and unions have been collecting donations to fund the strike action.

But, starting Monday, only three metro lines in Paris will continue striking.

Disagreements among unions

One of France's main labour unions - the CFDT - had welcomed the government's offer to scrap a portion of the reform that would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. The union said it showed the government was "open to compromise".

The CFDT - unlike many of the other unions - is favourable to changing to a universal retirement system.

But protesters broke into the CFDT's headquarters on Friday evening and assaulted workers in an action that President Emmanuel Macron called "shameful".

Other labour unions also condemned the break-in.

"No matter the possible disagreements between unions, the CGT does not condone this type of action. Every union is free to choose its own way of operating, goals, and demands," the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) said in a statement.

Continued action against retirement reform

Although transportation in France's capital has notably improved with at least six lines operating normally on Saturday, many workers have continued the strike.

Paris' celebrated Louvre Museum closed on Friday due to workers on strike against retirement reform.

AP Photo/Francois Mori

Many unions have said they will continue striking until the government withdraws the reform plan that would eliminate France's 42 special regimes in favour of a universal system where workers accrue points.

Despite the planned pause in Paris' transportation system, the union said that they would not let up the fight.