PARIS ( Associated Press) – The French national rail operator advised commuters to stay home Tuesday to avoid a strike against pension reform that was expected to cause serious transport disruptions, although high-speed trains with Great Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands connections will hardly be affected.
Unions that staged mass protests in the first round of nationwide action this month were expected to have similar success on Tuesday in keeping up pressure on government plans to raise the retirement age.
The situation deteriorated on both sides as the MPs began debating the motion. French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne insisted this weekend that her government’s intention to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 “can no longer be compromised.” The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament and the Union were determined to prove otherwise.
Rail operator SNCF warned of serious disruptions to the network from Monday night to Wednesday morning and recommended that commuters should cancel or postpone journeys and work remotely if possible.
Train services in the Paris region and regional trains across France were expected to be affected in what was a potentially bad day for commuters.
SNCF said severe disruption was also expected in France’s high-speed train network for cities and large towns, such as the Lyria service linking France to Switzerland.
However, high-speed Eurostar connections with Thalys between Great Britain and France, Belgium and the Netherlands should practically operate normally, the entity said.
Raising the retirement age is part of a wider reform that is the star project of President Emmanuel Macron’s second term. The move has faced widespread resistance among the population, with more than one million people protesting this month.
The government says that in the face of rising life expectancy and falling birth rates, proposals are necessary to address the pension system.
The legislation was passed to a parliamentary commission on Monday before being debated in a plenary session of the National Assembly on 6 February. 7,000 amendment proposals have been submitted that would complicate the initiative’s approval.