PARIS (Reuters) – Several far-left unions in France are calling for a nationwide strike on Thursday to demand wage increases to tackle soaring inflation, threatening to disrupt transport, schools and the healthcare sector. energy.
The one-day walkout is seen as a test of unions’ ability to muster support and a barometer of potential social unrest as President Emmanuel Macron decides whether to go ahead with plans to reform the pension system.
The more moderate CFDT union has avoided the strike call, but its boss Laurent Berger has promised street protests later this year if the government goes too far too fast on pension reform.
Europe’s cost of living crisis is putting upward pressure on wage inflation as private and public companies across the continent face demands from workers to cushion the impact of rising prices.
“We must increase wages because there is a problem of purchasing power in the country,” Philippe Martinez, whose CGT union is spearheading Thursday’s protests, told BFM television.
The CGT, whose members include the transport and energy sectors, supports raising the minimum wage to 2,000 euros ($1,947.80) per month, a 32-hour week and retirement at 60. Martinez called on other unions to support the strike.
“If we want to win, all unions must be together,” he added.
CGT strikers this week forced the shutdown of the TotalEnergies refinery in Gonfreville and halted deliveries to others.
Workers in the nuclear power industry are expected to join industrial action on Thursday, cutting some capacity from the French power grid as France already faces a record number of nuclear reactor shutdowns.
In French primary schools, the SNUipp-FSU union expects one in 10 primary schools to close in Paris.
According to strike turnout forecasts, the disruption of commuter rail services in the capital and metro operations is not expected to be severe. On average, two out of three buses should circulate in the capital.
($1 = 1.0268 euros)
(Report by Caroline Pailliez, Writing by Dominique Vidalon. Editing by Jane Merriman)