On the second day of France's mass strike, where trains, flights and schools stand still, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe now faces the massive criticism of the government's changes to the pension system.
- The French people have to work a little longer, like people in other EU countries. We need a universal pension system so that all people can enjoy the same benefits. It is not fair that some may retire earlier than others, says Philippe, according to the Reuters news agency.France stands still
He is referring to plans to change France's general pension system, which is based on 42 different tables with different levels of benefits depending on whether they have been employed in the public or private sector. Now the government wants to create a universal template for everyone. This has led to huge protests and several trade unions going out and announcing a general strike - which came into force on Thursday and caused France to remain largely silent.
Among other things, the transport industry, teachers and healthcare staff are upset as they fear their pension conditions will deteriorate. Édouard Philippe now says that he will hold talks with the leaders of, among others, the state rail companies SNCF and RATP. At the same time, he goes out and says that the reforms will not reduce pensions for the country's teachers.
- I believe in social dialogue and not in confrontation, says the prime minister, adding that the impact of the transport strike will continue to be reduced with the help of car pools and extra bus lines."Determined to continue"
Whether or not Philippine's statements will soothe the upset mood in the country or not remains to be seen. The strike is expected to continue for weeks.
"We are determined to continue the strike, this is not a sudden incident for a couple of days," says Bernadette Groison, secretary general of the FSU teacher union to Le Monde magazine.
During Thursday, 800,000 people went out and demonstrated against the pension plans. According to a survey commissioned by the La Tribune magazine, 60 percent of the French support the strike against pension reform.
According to Édouard Philippe, the major features of the reform plans will stand firm and the details will be presented on Wednesday next week.