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With song and solidarity, French unions rally en masse against pension reform

French labour union members and workers on strike attend a demonstration in Paris as France faces its 13th day of consecutive strikes against French government's pensions reform plans, December 17, 2019.
French labour union members and workers on strike attend a demonstration in Paris as France faces its 13th day of consecutive strikes against French government's pensions reform plans, December 17, 2019. Jean-Michel Belot, Reuters
4 min

As nationwide strikes continue in France against President Emmanuel Macron’s signature pension reform, unions demonstrated en masse on Tuesday in a pre-Christmas push to get the government to withdraw its reform plan altogether.

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  • A 13th day of strikes once again disrupted public transit in Paris with eight métro lines shuttered and most others offering limited service. Only two of 16 métro lines ran normally and only about one in four high-speed trains was running.                                                                                        
  • The French interior ministry says 76,000 people marched in today's demonstrations in Paris, with a total of 615,000 protesters all over France. According to the French union CGT, 350,000 people marched in Paris with 1.8 million throughout France.                                  
  • According to French authorities, there were 806,000 protesters throughout France on December 5, the first day of mass union demonstrations, whereas the the CGT put the number at 1.5 million.                                                                                                     
  • Today, demonstrators assembled at 11am local time at the Place de la République in central Paris and marched until Place de la Nation. Police erected barricades around Macron's residence, the Élysée Palace, even though it was not in the official demonstration's itinerary.             
  • Several European countries have raised the retirement age or slashed pensions to offset a rise in life expectancy and flagging economic growth. Critics of the French government's planned pension reforms fear citizens will have to work longer while ultimately earning lower pensions.                                                                                                                     
  • Polls suggest that slightly more than 60 percent of French people support the strike action but almost 70 percent would like to see a Christmas truce. SNCF rail unions are vowing to keep the strikes going during Christmas and throughout the busy holiday travel season.                                                                             
  • On Tuesday night, five French unions - out of the eight leading the movement - called for strike actions from Wednesday December 19 until the end of 2019, refusing a "truce" during the holidays, which the French government and the CFDT union tried to obtain.

Review the day's events as they unfolded on our live blog below:

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