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Massive transport strike takes toll on Parisians' morning commutes

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on December 5, 2019 - Duration: 01:22s

Massive transport strike takes toll on Parisians' morning commutes

France's public transport networks ground to a near halt on Thursday as unions dug in for a nationwide strike aimed at forcing President Emmanuel Macron to abandon plans to overhaul the country's Byzantine pension system.

Francesca Lynagh reports.

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Massive transport strike takes toll on Parisians' morning commutes

Parisian commuters faced transport chaos on Thursday (December 5) morning as nationwide strikes against pension reform took hold.

Railway and metro stations were largely deserted with many commuters digging out old bicycles, car pooling or working from home to avoid getting caught up.

President Emmanuel Macron wants to simplify France's unwieldy pension system, which comprises more than 40 different plans, many with different retirement ages and benefits.

He says the system is unfair and too costly.

And is angling for a single, points-based system under which for each euro contributed, every pensioner has equal rights.

But hard-left unions want to force Macron to abandon the overhaul by crippling transport networks, closing schools and leaving garbage piled high.

The SNCF state railway says only one in 10 commuter and high-speed TGV trains will run and Eurostar and Thalys have canceled at least half of their services linking Paris with London and Brussels.

More than half of all primary and secondary teachers are expected to walk out.

And hospital emergency rooms nationwide will operate on thin staffing.

Transport unions have set no end-date for the strike - which is one of the biggest public sector actions in decades.

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