Civil servants and workers in France opposing the new pension bill went on strike for the second time this month across the country. Many schools in the country are closed today. Buses and trains are also largely down. In Belgium, the protest, organized by the joint decision of the country’s leading unions, called on the government to eliminate the increased workload due to the lack of personnel. In the midst of the wave of strikes in Europe, a remarkable decision came from England…
New wave in crisis: Thousands of people took to the streets in France and Belgium! Flash decision from England…
According to the information given by a police official speaking to the French News agency AFP, approximately one million people are expected to take to the streets today and join the demonstrations to protest the new plan. According to the information given by the Ministry of Interior, 11,000 police officers, including 4,000 in the capital, Paris, are standing by to be deployed in protests across the country.
The government argues that the current system cannot be financially sustained any longer and wants to lower the retirement age from 62 to 64.
The most controversial part of the regulation made in the pension law was the retirement age. At the same time, the duration and amount of the contribution to the pension is increased, and pensions are prevented before they are completed.
According to public opinion polls, two-thirds of the public are against this change. The bill is also facing serious opposition in the French Parliament.
On January 19, 1.1 million people took to the streets to protest the biggest change in the pension law since 2010.
METRO AND TRAIN LINES DO NOT WORK
Today, millions of people have to walk or use transportation such as cars or bicycles to get to work. Many people took time off from work to stay at home with their out-of-school children.
Many metro lines and commuter trains in Paris will also be largely down today. Intercity train transport was also greatly affected by the strikes. High-speed trains are also planned to perform one out of every three trips.
Air travel is also affected by the strikes. At Air France, one of every 10 short or medium-haul flights will not be made because some employees are on strike; however, announced that there will be no cancellations on long-haul flights.
There may also be minor disruptions to international train journeys such as Eurostar.
EDUCATION AND OIL INDUSTRY IS PARLICED
Half of the kindergarten and primary school teachers are also participating in the strike, according to the statement of Snuipp-FSU, the largest teachers’ union in France.
France’s oil industry is also paralyzed. The CGT union, of which the workers of French energy giant TotalEnergies are members, announced that more than 75 percent of the workers participated in the strike. Electricity production across the country fell by 4.4 percent.
MACRON DOESN’T STEP BACK: ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY
President of France, Emmanuel Macron, announced that he would make these changes in his election campaign last year. “Compared to the rest of Europe, these changes are absolutely necessary,” Macron said on Monday.
France has the lowest retirement age among major European economies. The government says this change is essential to continue to financially support the pension system in the future.
FIRST PROTEST OF THE NEW YEAR IN BELGIUM
Many employees, whose purchasing power fell due to the high inflation and energy crisis in Belgium last year, and who called for improvement, organized the first protest of the new year after the necessary steps were not taken.
Hundreds of people gathered at the North Station in the capital Brussels and marched to the Brussels Midi Train Station. The protesters, who wanted to make their voices heard by the government, demanded the elimination of the personnel shortage that occurred after many sector workers, especially health, left their jobs due to poor working conditions and budgetary problems.
Complaining about the increased workload due to the low number of employees, the protesters asked the government to provide emergency staffing and financial support.
In Belgium, where the general election will be held next year, the coalition government that rules the country has not yet announced a policy that will please the employees.
DECISION ATTRACTING ATTENTION FROM ENGLAND
The bill, which envisages a minimum level of service during strikes in some sectors in the UK, was passed by 315 votes to 246 in the House of Commons. The bill will become law with the approval of the House of Lords.
The bill stipulates that some employees may return to work during strikes in areas such as railways and emergency services, and those who refuse to do so can be fired.
The Bill, Which Is Envisioned To Be Valid In England, Scotland and Wales, gives ministers the power to mandate a minimum level of service in fire, ambulance and rail services.
The bill covers other health and transport, education, border security and nuclear sectors, but the government hopes for voluntary compromises in these sectors. The minimum level of service required for each sector will be determined through negotiations.
The employers will then make a “job notice” to the unions, where they will be informed who should work during the strike.
The bill will not affect current strikes.
The bill does not have automatic protection against unfair dismissal of an employee who is asked to work during the strike but still chooses to go on strike.
When the strike is not held in accordance with the new rules, employers have the right to sue the unions to reimburse their losses.