Paris and its region disrupted by a massive transport strike

Crowded pavements, bicycle fleets and scooters and more than 280 km of accumulated traffic jams: the French capital and its region are disrupted Friday by a massive strike in transport, in protest against a pension reform project wanted by the French President Emmanuel Macron.
Thestrike in the Paris metro was followed on Friday, with ten closed metro lines, very heavily disrupted traffic on the Regional Express (RER) rail lines and an average of three buses on average.

The mobilization is unprecedented for twelve years: on October 18, 2007, a strike of the Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) and the rail operator, the SNCF, was already aiming for a reform of the special pension schemes, under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy.

This Friday, ten metro lines out of 16 are completely closed, while four others, there is one metro out of three but only at peak times, and still not necessarily on the whole line.

On the automatic lines 1 and 14, the only ones to function normally, the expected saturation is not at the rendezvous, many users having made their arrangements to be telecommuting, take alternative transport or ask a day off.

On line 1, an officer of the public transport company RATP is surprised: “we expected to see many more people.”

“Apparently people managed to organize themselves differently. I also think that many people have put their day, “said this employee of the RATP cross Gare de Lyon.

This Friday is not so dark, many locals and travelers have found fallback solutions, AFP journalists said.

“No wonder, because a lot of colleagues have managed not to come. For example, we had a meeting today, but it was postponed until next week, “reports 39-year-old Gwenn, controller, crossed at the metro station” Bastille “.

At the Gare de Lyon station, a family of Japanese tourists is reluctant to cross the metro portals, which are open for the occasion: “We knew about the strike. We are going to Lyon (center-east) tonight, but before we go to visit the Louvre, “says the father, glad that the museum remains serviced.

On the other hand, at the Gare du Nord, the first in Europe with 700,000 passengers a day (excluding the metro), the RERs are crowded with users forced to make an unusual trip.

“Huge detour”

“It’s a huge detour for me, and I do not think I’m on time,” worries Mélissa, a 21-year-old student, before reassuring herself, “I do not think many will come.”

On line 4, closed as announced at the end of the rush hour, it is the misunderstanding and anger of many users who raise the tone. A man gets carried away: “yes I am angry, you make us piss off with your retreats”. “It’s not up to us to say that,” an agent replies.

Several RATP unions have called on the officers to strike to save their special pension scheme, which should disappear as part of a reform by President Macron.

“It is not a strike of privileged, it is a strike of employees who say + one wants to have a retirement at a reasonable age and to leave under reasonable conditions”, estimated on France-Info the general secretary of the CGT Philippe Martinez.

The reform provides for the disappearance of all special schemes, which benefit certain civil servants, the employees of several large public companies and a handful of other professions (seafarers, clerks of notaries, employees of the Paris Opera, etc.), and replacing them with a universal point pension system.

Special schemes are considered too expensive by the government. In Parisian transport, the average age of retirement was just 55.7 years in 2017, compared to 63 years for retirees of the general scheme, according to a report of the Court of Auditors published in July.

The unions stress that this special regime takes into account the “specific constraints” and “difficulties linked to (their) public service mission”.

Local information matters to me and I want to participate in the future of my life.

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