France's biggest strike in decades has shut down public transport services and reduced the number of hospital staff, teachers and police officers at work in the latest protest against President Emmanuel Macron's reforms.In this case, unions representing millions of staff in both the public and private sectors are unhappy about a plan to overhaul the country's pension system, which they say will force people to work longer or face reduced payouts when they retire.One opinion poll put public support for the latest strike action at 69%, with backing strongest among 18-34 year-olds.So why is Mr Macron looking to implement such unpopular new measures - and just how controversial are they?What's Macron up to?Well, France currently has a complex system of 42 different pension schemes for its private and public sectors, with variations in retirement age and benefits. Mr Macron wants to create a unified system.Pension benefits are largely calculated using an employee's 25 highest-paid years of … [Read more...] about Macron pension reform: Why are French workers on strike?
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PARIS (Reuters) - Strikes against pension reforms shut schools and caused transport chaos around France on Tuesday, but the number of people taking to the streets dropped by more than half from last week, strengthening President Emmanuel Macron’s hand. Public workers have been on strike for six days, with trains the hardest hit. Unions had called for mass protests on Tuesday, the day before Macron’s government is to unveil details of its plan to simplify a complicated pension system that offers some of the world’s most generous benefits. Organizers had wanted to match the more than 800,000 who participated in a first day of protest last Thursday, but the turnout was much lower, despite the fine weather. “Given the depth of discontent, there is a need to get more people on the streets,” Philippe Martinez, head of the hardline CGT union, told reporters before leading a march in Paris. Behind Martinez, protesters chanted “Macron we’re coming … [Read more...] about French protesters take to streets over pension reform but numbers dwindle
PARIS — Zooming past the soaring arches of the Eiffel Tower, Sarah Westley and Cara Alexander balanced on Lime electric scooters, which the British tourists had rented through an app. “It’s fantastic; you can see so much,” Westley said. After using e-scooters on a trip to San Diego, “I said we need to go find the scooters in Paris,” she said. “They’re a very good value.” Thousands of e-scooters from California startups Lime and Bird, as well as Estonian ride-hailing company Taxify, have descended upon Paris over the past three months. Riders whiz along the promenades lining the Seine, through the Place de la Concorde, toward the Louvre and outside train stations and Metro stops. Unlike in San Francisco, where e-scooters ignited controversy that led to a temporary ban and a forthcoming, carefully controlled pilot program, stand-up e-scooters in Paris seem to be embraced by tourists, residents and city officials. That may be because … [Read more...] about Paris says ‘oui’ to shared electric scooters
A third of UK seasonal jobs in ski resorts and summer activity holidays have disappeared because of fears over Brexit, research shows. A year after the industry warned that 25,000 jobs were at risk, a survey of 65 independent travel specialists including Mark Warner, Ski World and festive operators in Lapland revealed that a third – 1,700 among those polled – had already gone. Industry leaders have said their business models are not sustainable outside the EU because companies will no longer be able to hire and deploy British staff on temporary contracts post Brexit. “What came back in the survey was that a large number of owners are actually looking to sell, they say ‘we are contemplating shutting down’ or ‘we will just close down because it is not viable’,” said Charles Owen, the co-founder of Seasonal Business in Travel (SBIT), which commissioned the survey. He runs Jack’s bar in the Meribel ski resort in the French Alps and says … [Read more...] about Brexit hits UK ski and holiday staff overseas
Residents of Papua New Guinea’s province of Bougainville have been voting in a referendum to succeed from Port Moresby. The official referendum result shows an overwhelming 98 per cent of voters have opted to leave PNG and become a sovereign nation. Former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who chaired the Bougainville Referendum Commission, said 176,928 people had voted for independence with just 3043 backing the option of remaining within PNG with greater autonomy. The vote is non-binding and the final say on independence lies with the PNG Government. But the sheer scale of the vote will put huge amounts of pressure on the government of James Marape to respect the vote. Prime Minister Marape will make a statement on Friday. Bougainville residents gather at a polling station in an historical independence vote in Buka on November 23, 2019. Picture: Ness Kerton/AFPSource:AFP Voting information pamphlets at a polling station ahead of the independence vote. Picture: Ness … [Read more...] about Bougainville province overwhelmingly votes to leave Papua New Guinea in independence referendum
In early September 2001, I was on secondment to a British newspaper, working in its opinions section. The big issue the British media was focused on during those weeks and months was immigration – in particular illegal immigration into Britain from the French town of Sangatte on the English Channel. France had established a giant refugee camp – a ‘holding centre’ – in 1999 to house refugees, mostly fleeing from the Balkan war, found on the streets of Calais and nearby towns. Most refugees had set Britain as their final destination, either travelling illegally via the freight trains plying through the Channel Tunnel, or on ferries. During my stint at the newspaper, an estimated 250 immigrants were coming in illegally every week into Britain from Sangatte. At one of the editorial meetings, the then editor of the newspaper posed the question: ‘How do we stop them from entering without turning off the light?’ What the lighthouse metaphor was … [Read more...] about VIEW: All migrants are equal, but some migrants are more equal than others