Anti-Macron Protesters Cut Power Lines, Cause Massive Outages to Distribution, Trains, Suburbs

Protesters take part in a demonstration against French President in Versailles on January 20, 2020 as part of a nationwide multi-sector strike against the French government's pensions overhaul. (Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP) (Photo by PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
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In an escalation of protests against reforms being pushed by President Emanuel Macron, French union workers cut the power line to the world’s largest wholesale market in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

A local energy branch of the far-left General Confederation of Labour Union (CGT), citing the pension reforms of President Macron, claimed responsibility for cutting a powerline that supplied energy to the Rungis International Market, a 234-hectare wholesale facility outside of Paris that does 9 billion euros in trade per year.  The outage lasted 90 minutes at the market before generators kicked in.

“We cut the power at the Rungis source substation this morning,” said union representative Franck Jouano, per Le Parisien.

“Our goal is to mark the occasion symbolically because there is little talk of electricians and gas, who are affected by the reform. We also want to mobilize against this reform because the government does not react to the demonstrations”, he added.

The power cut also shut down the rail shuttle service to Orly Airport, Paris’ second-largest airport, as well as affecting 11 different suburbs of Paris.  Hotels in the areas impacted claim that customers were trapped inside elevators as a result of the power outage.

Julien Denormandie, the City and Housing Minister, denounced the action as “scandalous” and “irresponsible”, saying that the unions “must stop these actions that degrade the climate of social dialogue”.

The powerline sabotage is a clear escalation from France’s left-wing unions in the fight over pension reform, following a month of transit strikes and street protests against President Emanuel Macron’s proposed reforms.

On Friday dozens of protestors shut down the Louvre, forcing the museum to close after several far-left unions called for public actions in response to Macron’s plan which they claim will “lower everyone’s pensions.”

Later that evening President Macron was escorted out of a theatre in Paris after a group of protestors attempted to confront the French leader. The protestors stormed through a police line into the building chanting “Macron, resign!” and “We are here, even if Macron does not want us we are here”.

Despite the protests, President Macron has held firm on his proposals, in which he would centralise the pension system that is currently spread out in dozens of different programs and provides special provisions for transit workers to retire in their 50s. Macron has also proposed to raise the age of pension eligibility from 62 to 64, in an attempt to keep more labourers in the workforce.

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