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Pension strikes cripple Paris, more travel woes ahead

Published:Monday | December 9, 2019 | 2:19 PM
Railway workers gather during a meeting of the CGT and Sud Rail unions in Rennes, western France, Monday, December 9, 2019. (AP Photo/David Vincent)

PARIS (AP) — Paris commuters inched to work Monday through massive traffic jams as strikes against retirement plan changes halted trains and subways for a fifth straight day — with the prospect of a tougher day ahead.

French President Emmanuel Macron girded for one of the toughest weeks of his presidency as his government prepares to present a redesign of the convoluted French pension system.

Macron sees melding 42 different retirement plans into one as delivering a more equitable, financially sustainable system. Unions view the move as an attack on the French way of life even though Macron’s government is not expected to change the current retirement age of 62.

Citing safety risks, the SNCF national rail network warned travellers to stay home or use “alternative means of locomotion” Monday instead of thronging train platforms in hopes of getting one of the few available trains running.

The national road authority reported more than 600 kilometers (360 miles) of traffic problems at morning rush hour around the Paris region — up from 90 miles on an average day.

Paris police girded for a huge pension protest march on Tuesday, similar to the one last Thursday when more than 800,000 people across France took part.

Fearing possible violence on its fringes, police warned they would mobilise significant resources immediately to stop violence.

All restaurants and shops along the march route were ordered closed, police said.

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