They have been as vocal as ever in their protests against the rise in the retirement age – but even the most diehard of French demonstrators conceded that the movement is running out of steam.
Inevitably because of the holidays, the seventh national day of strikes attracted fewer protesters – 560,000 said the government, two million said the largest union, the CGT.
Its leader Bernard Thibault put on a brave face:
“Never have so many people taken to the streets the day after parliament passes a reform.”
Francois Chereque of the CFDT said the war of words would go on:
“It’s our reponsibility to say the law is unjust. A big majority of employees and French people are against this law, so our duty is to continue to say so.”
The opposition Socialists say their legal challenge against the pensions reform will go before the Constitutional Council next week. Unless it is declared unconstitutional – a scenario considered unlikely – it can then be signed into law by the president.
The government said barely 5% of public sector workers went on strike.
Public transport was again disrupted – less so on the trains – but some airports saw up to half of flights cancelled. 85% of service stations are open and fuel supplies have improved, according to the government.
Another day of action is scheduled for 6th November. Unions are to meet two days earlier to plan their strategy.