Macron calls for Christmas truce in French pension strikes

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Abidjan on December 21, 2019, as part of a three-day visit to West Africa. (AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron called on transport unions to suspend strikes over pension reform during the Christmas holidays to avoid travel disruption.

“Strike action is justifiable and protected by the constitution, but I think there are moments in a nation's life when it is good to observe a truce out of respect for families and family life,” Macron said during a news conference with Ivorian counterpart Alassane Ouattara.

Two weeks of nationwide industrial action against Macron's planned overhaul of the pension system, including the scrapping of special regimes for sectors like the railways, have crippled train services.

Despite calls by some unions to suspend strikes during the festive season, several rail worker groups are continuing stoppages as travelers head off on holiday.

Macron said a strike pause would not mean unions had abandoned their demands, but would show “the sense of responsibility and the respect owed to French people who are sometimes apart and wish to be reunited during this festive period.”

National rail operator SNCF continued to run reduced services on Saturday, including half the usual number of its high-speed TGV trains, while half of metro lines in Paris were closed.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 10:01 - GMT 07:01