Paris traffic gridlock as metro workers strike over pension reform

Huge traffic jams as 10 of the city’s 16 metro lines are shut on Friday

A man rides an electric scooter past a traffic jam on the banks of the Seine in Paris on September 13, 2019, during a one-day strike of Paris public transports operator RATP employees over French government's plan to overhaul the country's retirement system. Ten of the city's 16 metro lines were shut down completely, while service on most others was "extremely disrupted," the RATP transit operator said. The city's burgeoning cycle lane system was seeing a surge in traffic as people pulled out bikes to get to work. / AFP / Martin BUREAU

A strike by Paris’s metro workers over the French pensions system sparked huge traffic jams on Friday and caused severe public transport delays.

Of the city’s 16 metro lines, 10 were shut down completely and service on most others was “extremely disrupted.”

Two of the three main suburban lines that traverse the city were also severely disrupted, as were most bus and tram services.

The strike is the first major protest against President Emmanuel Macron's plan to implement a universal pension system that would do away with the more advantageous plans enjoyed by workers in state transport and utility companies.

"It's not a strike by the privileged few. It's a strike by employees saying 'We want to retire at a reasonable age with a reasonable pension'," Philippe Martinez, head of the CGT union, told France Info radio.

To help ease the gridlock, the city’s RATP transit operator offered free 30-minute rides on the Cityscoot network of electric mopeds.

Metro workers say the reforms would force them to work longer by removing their long-held rights to early retirement, secured decades ago to compensate for spending long hours underground.

France's state auditor, the Cour des Comptes, said the average retirement age for RATP workers in 2017 was 55.7, compared with 63 years for most French workers.

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