French commuters and tourists braced for a fifth day of public transport chaos Monday as the government prepared to respond to widespread anger over pension reform that has sparked open-ended walkouts.
President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and senior cabinet ministers met late Sunday to discuss the contentious reform, which the country’s powerful labour unions claim will force many to work longer for a smaller retirement payout.
As both the government and unions vowed to stand firm, businesses started counting the costs of the strike which began last Thursday when some 800,000 people took to the streets across France in a mass rejection of plans to introduce a single, points-based pension scheme, unifying 42 existing plans.
The stoppages stranded commuters, closed schools, and hit tourism and Christmas retail.
Many people opted to take days off or to work from home, but thousands had no choice but to squeeze into perilously overcrowded suburban trains and metros whose numbers were slashed to a minimum.