France Braces for Nationwide Strikes  

France is preparing for nationwide strikes beginning Thursday that could bring the country to a standstill.

French labor unions have called for walkouts over President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to overhaul the retirement system.

In Paris, the unions plan to march Thursday, prompting police to order all shops, cafes and restaurants along the route to close for the day.

Hotels in Paris reported receiving numerous cancellations, as tourists were rethinking their travel plans. Most of the Paris Metro system will be shut down, as well as all national and international train services.

Most flights will be affected, since air traffic controllers have announced plans to join the protests through Saturday. Teachers unions, postal workers and most civil servants also plan to participate.

Paris police Chief Didier Lallement said 6,000 officers will be on duty amid fears of violence and destruction of property. Protests are banned on the Champs-Elysees around the presidential palace, Parliament and Notre Dame Cathedral.

The protests have the potential to be more destabilizing than other strikes in recent years, including the “yellow vest” demonstrations.

France’s retirement system has long been considered sacrosanct. The last time the government tried to overhaul it was in 1995 when protests brought the country to a three-week halt until then-President Jacques Chirac conceded defeat.

by via Voice of America - English