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  • Citizens hold a placard with a portrait of Macron as King Louis XVI at a demonstration in France, January 9, 2020.

    Citizens hold a placard with a portrait of Macron as King Louis XVI at a demonstration in France, January 9, 2020. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 January 2020
Opinion

On the "Inter-professional Mobilization Day," President Macron administration's preferred response has been the repression of those who defend their rights.

French workers, professors, teachers, doctors, nurses, and lawyers Thursday disrupted rail services, shut schools and brought demonstrators onto the streets in a make-or-break push to force President Emmanuel Macron to abandon his planned pension reform.

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Rail Strike Becomes Longest in France's History Since May 1968

Over the last week, the country's left-wing unions have been encouraging people to participate in an unprecedented protest, which began 36 days ago on Dec. 5 and has not stopped since then.

"You stop a protest movement when workers feel their demands are on the table," the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) Secretary Philippe Martinez said and recalled that "we've had no response from the government."​​​​​​​

The intransigence of President Macron, who has been compared to the autocratic rulers of the monarchical era, is expanding the number of groups joining "the inter-professional mobilization day."

"Up to 50 percent of teachers are on strike, a very important mobilization that reflects the anger and uneasiness which have accumulated in recent years," local outlet Revolution Permanente reported and added that at least 60 percent of schools are closed in Paris.​​​​​​​

On Thursday, in the French capital, the Eiffel Tower will also remain closed because its workers have joined the strike.​​​​​​​

"Caen Court lawyers throw their robes at Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet's feet to protest against justice reform and pensions reform.​​​​​​​"

This "inter-professional mobilization day" also keeps transport completely paralyzed. Power sector walkouts have generated an electricity production fall and five refineries are not shipping out products.

For months, the government has not imagined another answer but the police repression of those who protest. And this policy was repeated on Thursday. 

In Nantes, Bordeaux, Marseille, Toulouse or Paris, workers have permanently faced police harassment even when citizens were demonstrating peacefully.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

"Macron is not only the gravedigger of French identity but he is also the demolisher of our social model," Jacques Guillemain told local media Riposte Laique.

This analyst explains that Macron's pension reform will especially harm low-paid workers. Through a supposed "rationalization" of the different existing pension schemes, the government seeks to reduce the contributions that private sector agents could make to a solidarity-based ​​​​​​​public system.

"This reform only serves high-income people, banks and insurance companies who dream of creating their Anglo-Saxon pension funds. But those who will not have the means to contribute to this system will have only two options: leave with a miserable retirement or work much longer."

This is one of the main reasons why more than 55 percent of the French want Macron to withdraw his reform proposal, according to a survey published by Le Journal du Dimanche.​​​​​​​

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