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France braces for strike against Macron’s pension reform plans

France is bracing for a national strike and protests by hardline unions, starting Thursday, against President Emmanuel Macron's plans to reform the country's pension system.

France is bracing for a national strike and protests by hardline unions, starting Thursday, against President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to reform the country’s pension system.

Railways and the Paris public transport system are expected to be especially hard hit. Their staff currently benefit from early retirement rights likely to be phased out by the reform.

Paris public transport firm RATP warned that 11 of the city’s 16 metro lines will shut down completely. It urged passengers to consider using ride-sharing apps, hire bikes and e-scooters.

The main airports in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Beauvais will see about one in five flights cancelled, civil aviation authorities said.

Paris police banned members of the Yellow Vests protest movement from the city’s Champs-Elysees on Thursday.

Shopkeepers along the route of a trade union march in the east of the city have been ordered to shut up shop and remove anything that could be used as a missile or weapon.

The reform, which the government has promised will be subject to consultation, also seems likely to require most people to work longer to get a full pension.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, ahead of a special government meeting on Sunday on the topic, said it would bring about a fairer and more modern system, but acknowledged that “there are many French people who are asking what it means for them.”

But radical leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon charged on France 2 television that Macron was “tearing up, page after page, the history book of the French social republic.”

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