News ID: 113459
Publish Date : 17 March 2023 - 21:34
Strikes Rage Across Europe’s Big Three

Politicians Call for Police Protection in France

PARIS/BERLIN (Dispatches) – Refinery strikes escalated in France on Friday as the interior minister spoke of protesters wreaking havoc across the country and some MPs called for police protection, amid anger at the government pushing through a rise in the pension age without a parliamentary vote.
More than 300 people were arrested across France overnight during spontaneous protests against Emmanuel Macron’s decision to bypass parliament and force through his unpopular pensions changes, including raising the eligible age from 62 to 64.
Macron instructed the prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, to invoke article 49.3 of the constitution, which allows the government to adopt a bill without a parliamentary vote, because he said there was too much economic risk to the country if MPs voted against the bill.
As opposition politicians accused the government of a brutal and undemocratic approach, demonstrators gathered in Paris and other cities. Hundreds of protesters briefly blocked traffic on the Paris ring road early on Friday morning.
In the energy sector, strikers voted to halt production at one of the country’s largest refineries by this weekend or Monday at the latest, a representative of the CGT union said. Workers had already been on a rolling strike at the northern site TotalEnergies de Normandie, but halting production would escalate the industrial action and spark fears of fuel shortages. Strikers continued to deliver less fuel than normal from several other sites.
A bin collectors’ strike in Paris also continued, as thousands of tonnes of waste piled up in streets across half of the city. A further day of coordinated strike action by transport workers and teachers will take place next Thursday. Some teachers’ unions suggested supervisors should also strike early next week when high school students begin baccalauréat exams.
The interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, warned against what he called the chaos of random, spontaneous street demonstrations. Amid protests in cities from Rennes to Marseille, 310 people were arrested overnight, including 258 in Paris, he told RTL radio.
Late on Thursday night in Paris, some people started fires on side streets and caused damage to shop fronts after police used teargas and water cannon to clear hundreds of protesters who had gathered as a fire was lit in the centre of Place de la Concorde. By 11.30pm, 217 people had been arrested on suspicion of seeking to cause damage, Paris police said.
Opposition parties will call a vote of no-confidence in the government on Monday.

Hundreds of Flights
Cancelled in Germany

Strikes at four German airports led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights on Friday in the latest bout of industrial action to

disrupt travel plans in recent months.
German union Verdi called on security and ground handling staff at airports in Duesseldorf, Cologne/Bonn, Stuttgart and Baden-Baden to strike over pay and working conditions.
Cologne/Bonn Airport said that 144 flights were cancelled as a result, while Duesseldorf Airport said earlier in the week it was working on a “significantly reduced flight schedule”. It had originally scheduled 368 take-offs and landings for Friday.
“No take-offs and landings are possible all day due to the Verdi strike,” Stuttgart Airport said in a statement, calling on passengers not to travel to the airport.
Earlier this week, Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg airports cancelled all commercial flights due to strike action, the latest in a string of walkouts as the post-pandemic travel rebound fuels staffing problems and workers call for more pay due to high inflation.
Five Weeks of Strike Planned in UK
In England, more than 1,000 Passport Office staff across the UK will strike for five weeks in an escalation of a dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union working at passport offices in Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newport, Peterborough and Southport will walk out from April 3 to May 5.
Those in Belfast will strike from April 7 to May 5.
The union said the action is a “significant escalation” in the long-running dispute, as it warned the strike will have a “significant impact” on the delivery of passports as summer approaches.
Members are asking for a 10% pay rise as well as job security, changes to their pensions and protected redundancy terms.
On February 1, Passport Office staff joined about 100,000 civil servants represented by the PCS as part of industrial action affecting 124 government departments.
About 133,000 civil servants also walked out on Wednesday in the largest day of strikes since this current wave started last year.