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Paris workers reluctantly ending strike action

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:45s - Published
Paris workers reluctantly ending strike action

Paris workers reluctantly ending strike action

As the standoff between President Emmanuel Macron's government and French trade unions continue over pension reforms, some Paris workers are finding they can no longer afford to remain on strike.

Adam Reed reports.

When French trade unions declared a nationwide strike to protest against planned pension reforms, Nicolas, a 34-year-old maintenance technician with the Paris metro, went on strike for three straight weeks.

Then he went back to work.

(SOUNDBITE) (French) 34-YEAR-OLD RATP MAINTENANCE TECHNICIAN, NICOLAS, SAYING: "It will cost me 1,000 euros." He'd just finished working an early shift deep in the tunnels under Paris and earns around 2,200 euros a month, but can no longer afford to strike full-time as the stand off against President Emmanuel Macron's government continues.

He still contributes to his union's strike fund, and goes out on strike for a day or two at a time, but admits the time has come to put the needs of his wife and young daughter first.

(SOUNDBITE) (French) 34-YEAR-OLD RATP MAINTENANCE TECHNICIAN, NICOLAS, SAYING: "At some point, we can't be ashamed of going back to work, as we have personal problems. If one's been on strike for more than a month, that's a month with zero euros." Data collected from public transport agencies shows the impact of the strike is on the waning, as Reuters sources close to President Macron believe it can eventually win the stand-off by wearing down the strikers resolve.

The proposals being put forward by the government are the biggest overhaul of France's state pension system since the Second World War.

Macron wants to end privileges for some professions and provide incentives for people to stay in work longer, and has shown no sign of bowing to the demand of hardline unions that he ditch the reform plans.

Winning the standoff would strengthen his hand to embark on further pro-business reforms as he eyes re-election in 2022.

But as the strike enters its seventh week, Nicolas remains defiant in saying that although he's going back to work, it's not to say he won't strike again.




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