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Morning Brief: France’s Strike Could Last for Days France’s Strike Could Last for Days...
Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: France’s public sector strike is set to continue at least through Monday, youth climate activists hold a Friday march alongside the U.N. COP25 conference in Madrid, and there is little hope for compromise at a Vienna meeting between the parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
The public sector strikes that paralyzed France on Thursday continue today, with rail workers, bus drivers, teachers, hospital staff, and students walking out in protest of proposed reforms to the country’s generous pension system. On Thursday, more than 800,000 people across the country took to the streets—one of the biggest strikes in France in decades. Schools were shut, flights canceled, and transit systems disrupted.
In Paris, labor union marchers were joined by yellow vest protesters, who posed a significant challenge to President Emmanuel Macron’s agenda with anti-government demonstrations last year. (Thursday’s march was larger than any yellow vest protest, as the Guardian notes.) Away from the main march, some masked protesters vandalized shopfronts and clashed with riot police, who responded with tear gas.
What are people protesting? Those on strike are pushing Macron to back down on planned reforms to the pension system—changes that were part of his 2017 campaign platform. He is seeking to unify the system, which currently has specific rules for some occupations, such as railway workers. The government says change is necessary so that the system can support an aging population. Unions say the reform would drive up the retirement age or decrease pensions.
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