France’s recent retirement system reform has encountered a lot of resistance at the social level, and strikes and demonstrations have occurred one after another. Millions of people participated, and various industries such as transportation, catering, and education were affected.
The latest round of strikes has caused severe disruption to sea and inland cargo transport across France.
01 Strikes and demonstrations were held again in many French cities
On the eve of the decisive vote on the reform of the French retirement system, a new round of cross-industry strike demonstrations was held in many places in France on March 15, local time.
This round of strikes is also the eighth strike demonstration since January this year. More than 200 demonstrations were held in many cities across France, with the Paris march starting at 2 p.m. local time.
According to union sources, approximately 15% of French Railways (SNCF) employees were on strike as of noon on March 15, a significant decrease compared with March 7; less than 3% of civil servants were on strike, compared with March 7 This proportion is close to 25%.
Due to the strike of air traffic control personnel, the Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC) requires all airlines to reduce flights by 20% on the 15th and 16th. The French Civil Aviation Authority warned that flights at Orly Airport will be affected from the evening of March 14 to the morning of March 16. The French Civil Aviation Authority recommends that passengers contact the airline to check flight information before traveling, and try to postpone the trip if possible.
In addition to the postponement of the statutory retirement age, the electricity and gas industry also faces the removal of special retirement benefits and therefore continues to mobilize strikes.
In order to protest against the extension of the retirement age to 64, Paris municipal sanitation workers have been on strike for nine consecutive days, leaving no one to collect garbage. About 7,000 tons of garbage are piling up in Paris, where garbage workers have voted to strike until at least March 20.
02 Macron forcibly promotes French pension reform
On the 16th, the French government decided to bypass the National Assembly (House of Representatives) and forcefully pass pension reform. This led to renewed protests against pension reform in France, with police and protesters in the capital Paris locked in clashes.
According to a report by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on the 16th, French Prime Minister Bornet told the National Assembly that day that the government invoked Article 49, paragraph 3, of the Constitution to bypass the National Assembly and forcibly pass the pension reform bill.
Pension reform is an important political issue for French President Macron. The French government announced a retirement system reform plan on January 10, planning to increase the retirement age from the current 62 to 64 by 2030. Narrow the pension expenditure gap. According to the new plan, starting from 2027, only French people who have worked for 43 years will be eligible to receive full pensions.
The BBC said that because of the loud opposition, Macron has no confidence in the “Ennahda Party” led by himself and the ruling coalition “Together”, and is worried that members of “Together” will defect during the vote or abstain from voting. Until the morning of the 16th, Macron was still working hard to ensure that “Together” members supported the passage of the bill.
Outside Parliament, people gathered at the Place de la Concorde in central Paris. Thousands of people took to the streets in Paris and other cities, singing the national anthem “La Marseillaise” and waving union flags.
In the evening of the 16th, clashes broke out between some protesters and the police. A fire broke out in the center of the Place de la Concorde, and police armed with shields and batons fired tear gas and cleared the square. According to Agence France-Presse, Paris police arrested at least 120 people before nightfall.
Unions have stressed that they will continue to oppose pension reform. French unions have called for another general strike next Monday (March 20).
At the same time, it was reported that there was a rare chaotic scene in the French National Assembly on the 16th. French Prime Minister Borne was surrounded by boos and “resign” calls as soon as he stepped into the National Assembly. The opposition parties loudly called for the Macron government to step down.
03 Maersk issues emergency notice
Shipping company Maersk stated in a message to customers that the French union has confirmed that a nationwide strike will begin at 6 a.m. on March 14 and will last until 6 a.m. on March 17 (some workers will strike until the 20th).
The strike has a multi-faceted impact on operations and will cause significant disruption to sea and inland cargo transport across France.
Main emergencies include that the “Evelyn Maersk” will cancel its call at Le Havre, with the “Maersk Surabaya” as an alternative, while the two ships “MSC Vittoria” and “MSC Diana” will Delays, warehouses at ports closed.
In terms of intermodal transport, all trains at the ports of Le Havre and Fos were canceled and containers were piled in inland warehouses.
Maersk is analyzing the situation on a case-by-case basis, rerouting cargo where possible, and looking at alternative transportation options, such as trucking, as possible alternatives. Maersk will do its best to reduce the impact on customers.
Finally, friends who have recently shipped goods to Europe, France and other countries are reminded to pay attention to the impact of cargo delays.