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  • Arian Sauer

Strikes and Protests in Europe

For months there have been protests and strikes across Europe because of peoples' rising outrage over inflation and political decisions.

Since January there have been strikes and protests all across France after the president, Emmanuel Macron, changed the pension age in France from 62 to 64 without consulting his government. This means that many people will have to retire two years later, which has aggravated many citizens of France. Normally, the president would have to wait for the government to vote to change the law, but in this case, Macron didn’t do this. He used a law from the 1960s, which gave him the right to make a new law without asking his government.

This law was made by Charles de Gaulle, a general who was president during that time, because of a war between France and Algeria. Charles de Gaulle wanted to be have the power to make laws himself and this started France’s fifth republic. Every time there is a major change in the government or in France’s laws, it is the start of a new republic. There is speculation about whether this will be the start of a new, sixth republic.

The only way to stop the president from changing the law is parliament voting for a change of government, which would mean that Emmanuel Macron would have to leave his post as president. In France the biggest protests seen in years have been taking place, with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets. In Bordeaux protesters set the City Hall on fire and in Paris the Motorised Brigades for the Repression of Violent Action, a police unit with motorbikes, arrested hundreds of people and injured many. The police used violence and tear gas to deal with the demonstrators.

On Monday the 27th of March there are set to be the biggest demonstrations in Germany in 30 years. There will be major travel disruptions, because workers of the Verdi Service Workers' Union and the EVG Union have decided to go strike for a raise and more than 100.000 people will take part in the protests. The day before, Sunday the 26th of March there will be more people at airports and train stations than usual because of the planned strikes. The German railway company “Deutsche Bahn” have announced that no long-distance trains will run and a few airports, such as the Munich Airport, will shut down because of staff shortages on Monday. In Frankfurt technical problems will likely lead to flight cancellations and delays in Germany’s biggest airport.

In England, Wales and Scotland passport office workers will go on strike for five weeks, in April and May. More than 1.000 workers are striking, which is about a quarter of the workers in Britain, and they are demanding a 2% pay rise. Nurses and ambulance workers in England were striking in early March and the unions want a 5% raise and a one-off payment of at least £1,655 for all nurses in England, including nurses in the NHS, and ambulance workers. Junior doctors were on strike for 72 hours in the middle of March and demanded a 35% raise, because of pay cuts since 2008 after inflation. Teachers and university staff were striking at about 150 universities in March and the Department for Education has said that there will be talks about their pay and the Association of School and College Leaders, National Association of Head Teachers and NASUWT will also be involved. More than 130.000 civil servants (for example: vets, marine biologists, engineers) want a 10% pay rise and rail workers are on strike, leaving many train stations with staff shortages. Postal workers were on strike around Christmas, which was the reason for delays of many packages and letters around the country. The demanded a pay rise and the Royal Mail company offered a 9% pay rise, which the workers rejected.

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