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France’s unions announced a major one-day strike on Paris public transport on Thursday, the latest industrial action to focus on sharp price rises.

RATP, the capital’s transport operator, warned of particularly severe disruptions to metro and commuter rail lines, with bus and tram services also affected by the pay rise protest.

Seven metro lines will be completely closed – 2, 3bis, 5, 8, 10, 11 and 12 – and seven others will only work during peak hours, from 7.00 to 9.30 and from 16.30 to 19.00 – lines 3, 4. , 6, 7 , 7bis, 9 and 13.

Unions have staged strikes across several sectors in recent weeks, demanding higher wages or more hiring as spiraling energy costs fuel broad-based inflation.

Union leaders also hope to increase pressure on President Emmanuel Macron, who is preparing to resume a controversial pension overhaul that would push the official retirement age to 64 or 65 from 62 currently.

A similar attempt sparked mass protests two years ago, before the government abandoned the overhaul amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

But the transport strike in Paris did not spill over into other sectors, with only the hard-line CGT union calling for a nationwide shutdown.

CGT spokeswoman Celine Verceletti said she expected between 150 and 200 demonstrations similar to the October 18 turnout, amid ongoing refinery strikes that have led to gasoline shortages.

Thursday’s strike comes at a time when commuters have grown increasingly frustrated with Paris’ public transport and services continue to decline in the wake of the Covid pandemic, even as traffic levels have generally returned to pre-crisis levels.

Former prime minister Jean Kastek, who is due to take over as head of the RATP in the coming weeks, will face questioning by lawmakers in the Senate and lower house of the National Assembly this week.

(from the AFP)