Paris has essentially shut down for the past 12 days as transport unions protest pension reform:
Au onzième jour de mobilisation contre la réforme des retraites, le trafic restait fortement perturbé dans les transports publics, dimanche 15 décembre. A Paris, le trafic des métros était particulièrement compliqué, avec quatorze lignes complètement fermées.
Dans le métro parisien, les lignes automatiques 1 et 14 fonctionnaient normalement, avec un risque de saturation, de même que les lignes Orlyval, RoissyBus (deux bus sur trois) et OrlyBus (quatre bus sur cinq), qui desservent les aéroports. En revanche, les lignes 2, 3 bis, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 7 bis, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 et 13 sont totalement fermées.
Translation: Most of the Metro is closed, most trains aren't running, most buses aren't running, and Paris can barely function.
NPR's Paris-based Eleanor Beardsley has a first-person account on today's Weekend Edition Sunday.
Why is this happening? Here is the Times:
While France’s official retirement age may be 62, the actual age varies widely across the country’s labyrinthine system. Train drivers can retire at 52, public electric and gas workers at 57, and members of the national ballet, who start dancing at a very young age, as early as age 42. That is to name just a few of the stark differences.
It is this sheer complexity that [French President Emmanuel] Macron has vowed to untangle, aiming to standardize 42 different public and private pension schemes into one state-managed plan.
The system is staring at a potential deficit of 19 billion euros by 2025 if no action is taken, according to a landmark report issued by France’s pension czar, Jean-Paul Delevoye.
So Mr. Macron says he wants to merge the disparate systems, public and private, into one state-managed system by 2025.
He also wants to keep the deficit from growing, which Patrick Artus, chief economist of Paris-based Natixis bank, said could be achieved if every worker works at least another six months before retiring.
France isn't the US or the UK, and French unions have tremendous power that unions in the Anglo-American world never had. But years of strikes in the UK during the 1970s drove British voters to Margaret Thatcher's Conservative party and the heavy-handed anti-labour policies she enacted.
I don't think France will ever see that kind of anti-union governance. But I do suggest that perhaps this tantrum needs to end so that the government and the unions can work to fix the structural problems that everyone knows exist.