Union leaders threaten to leave MPs without power
French authorities say they will deploy thousands of police officers on Thursday in response to major nationwide protests organized by the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), the country’s second-largest trade union. The organization has also threatened to cut off electricity supply to MPs and billionaires.
Union members in sectors such as transportation, education and energy announced last week that they would go on strike and hold rallies after the government proposed a bill that would see the retirement age raised from 62 to 64. Polls have shown that the move is opposed by the vast majority of French citizens, many of whom are currently facing a cost-of-living crisis.
According to union and transport operators cited by Reuters, it’s expected that public transport will be the most affected by the strike on Thursday, with multiple cancellations of trains and flights and significant disruptions to the Paris metro. Additionally, seven out of ten primary school teachers are expected to walk off the job, as are many refinery workers.
"I suggest they also go see the nice properties, the nice castles of billionaires," CGT leader Philippe Martinez told France 2 on Wednesday, adding that "it would be good if we cut off their electricity so that they can put themselves, for a few days, in the shoes of ... French people who can't afford to pay their bill."
Another CGT official, Sebastien Menesplier, who is in charge of the union’s energy and mining branch, has also threatened to cut electricity supplies to the offices of MPs who support the pension reform, according to local media.
Government officials have called the threats to cut electricity "unacceptable" and have committed a sizable police force to handle the protests.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has announced that over 10,000 police officers will be deployed across the country on Thursday, adding that the majority will be handling the demonstrations in Paris, where he said over 1,000 potentially violent activists are expected to attend.
The pension reform has yet to become law, as it must first be adopted by parliament. President Emmanuel Macron, whose government proposed the bill, must obtain an absolute majority in order to push the legislation through, but is currently opposed by the liberal-conservative party Les Republicains.