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PARIS – Trains halted in France on Thursday, schools closed, refinery shipments blocked Plans to raise retirement age by two years to 64.

President Emmanuel Macron says his flagship reforms are essential to keep the pension system from collapsing, even though polls show the pension system is very unpopular .

The challenge for unions is whether opposition to reform and anger over the cost of living crisis can be transformed into mass social protests that will ultimately force governments to change plans.

“Today the mobilization will be very strong…we are here and the government project will be withdrawn,” Frederic Souilot, head of the FO union, told Sud Radio.

Laurent Berger, president of the CFDT, France’s largest trade union, said BFM TV was “overwhelmed with anger”.

Union leaders said Thursday was just the beginning.

“There is no merit in this reform,” said Rosen Cross of Cannes in the south of France as she prepared to strike with banners reading “No to 64”.

For Mr Macron, at stake are his reformist credentials, both at home and among his European Union peers, and curbing public spending.

The Ministry of Labor estimates that lowering the retirement age by two years and extending the contribution period would increase annual pension contributions by an additional €17.7bn (SGD25.9bn), potentially bankrupting the scheme by 2027. .

“This reform is necessary and just,” Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt told LCI TV.

Unions say there are other ways to ensure the survival of the pension system, such as taxing the ultra-rich and increasing contributions from employers and wealthy pensioners.

“Lockdown the country”?

“What no one, not even the unions, can know is whether the French are opposed enough to lock down the country,” said Bruno Parrier, Poe professor of science. I was.

The reform still needs to pass parliament, and although Macron has lost an absolute majority, he hopes it will pass with the support of conservatives.

Public transport was badly disrupted on Thursday.

According to SNCF’s railway operator, only one-third to one-fifth of the high-speed TGV lines are running, and few local or regional trains are running. France hits nationwide strike as unions oppose Macron’s pension reforms

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