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French strike chaos deepens in a crucial week for Macron

Meanwhile, France’s transport chaos deepened Monday on the fifth day of a nationwide strike over pension reforms, ramping up tensions at the start of a crucial week in President Emmanuel Macron’s battle with trade unions.

With only two of the Paris metro’s 16 lines running as normal and suburban trains also heavily disrupted, many commuters slipped behind the wheel to try to get to work in torrential rain, causing major gridlock.

By 9 am, the tailbacks in the Paris area ran to 600 kilometers (370 miles), twice the normal level, the Sytadin monitoring website said.

According to AFP, large queues formed at bus stops following an announcement that one out of two buses would be running but striking workers blocked seven out of 25 bus depots, leaving more travelers stranded.

With many having opted to work from home last week and only now returning to the workplace, this week will test public support for the strike.

A poll Sunday in the Journal Du Dimanche newspaper showed 53% of the French supporting the strike or expressing sympathy for their demands, up to six points in a week.

Unions have called the second day of mass protests for Tuesday, a day before the government unveils the full details of its plans for a single points-based pension scheme that does away with dozens of more advantageous plans enjoyed by train drivers, sailors, lawyers, and other professions.

Critics argue that the shake-up will require people in both the public and private sectors to work longer for a smaller retirement payout.

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