Status: December 25, 2019 3:58 p.m..
The major train stations in Paris closed, only the two automatic metro lines in operation and no TGV express train on the way: The 21st day of the strike paralyzes France. That’s why there was “Swan Lake” on the street.
Public transport in Paris – almost nonexistent on Christmas Day. The major train stations in the French capital remained completely closed on the 21st strike day in a row and only the two automatically operated metro lines were in operation as subways. TGV express trains should start running again from Wednesday afternoon at the earliest, announced the transport company SNCF.
The strikes against the pension reform in France are hampering daily life in the capital, but also in other regions of the country. Taxis, car pooling services and rental car companies were overwhelmed by the huge demand. Tens of thousands of travelers who wanted to visit their families for Christmas were stranded in Paris on Christmas Eve.
Danced protest: scenes from the ballet “Swan Lake” in front of the Paris Opera.
“Culture in Danger” with “Swan Lake”
The strike is mainly carried out by the railway workers’ unions, but other sectors and institutions are also participating in the protests, including the Paris Opera. In front of the main entrance, around 40 dancers performed ballet scenes from “Swan Lake” in front of passers-by in protest against the pension reform plans. The dancers held up banners that read “Culture in Danger”.
The strikes are directed against the central reform promise made by President Emmanuel Macron, who wants to standardize the complicated system with 42 different pension regulations and reduce the billions in deficit in the pension funds. The factual increase in the retirement age from currently 62 to 64 in the future is particularly controversial.
Negotiations between the unions and the governments failed last week and are due to resume on January 7th. The unions have announced that they will continue strikes until an agreement is reached.
No train will come.
Maybe more trains again on the weekend.
However, the SNCF expects a slight improvement after the holidays. This means that six out of ten TGV express trains will run next weekend. Last weekend it was only five out of ten.
According to the SNCF, the strikes are also clearly noticeable in the income of the transport company. The loss of income is now 400 million euros, said SNCF boss Jean-Pierre Farandou of the newspaper “Le Monde”. The industry associations put their sales losses at 30 to 60 percent compared to the previous year.
Whoever goes on strike earns nothing.
But even the strikers have to struggle with falling wages after three weeks on strike, because in France there is no so-called strike money as in Germany. “It’s starting to hurt financially,” train driver Raffi Kaya told AFP news agency on the sidelines of a Christmas dinner organized by the unions. “But we’ve come too far to stop now,” he added.
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