French unions march, vow to stand firm as pension strike softens Jan 17, 2020 0 212 12345 AFPParisStriking workers poured into streets across France on Thursday for a sixth day of mass demonstrations against a pensions overhaul, a show of defiance after Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said a historic transport stoppage “has gone on for too long.” The rallies came on the 43rd day of a strike that again snarled train traffic and caused misery for millions of commuters in Paris especially.“It’s never too late to make a government back down,” Philippe Martinez of the CGT union said ahead of a demonstration at the Montparnasse train station in the capital that included striking teachers, lawyers and hospital workers.“Our determination is still just as strong” as when the strike was launched on December 5, he said.The rallies came with a spike in the number of striking workers at train operator SNCF, with 10 percent walking off the job compared with just 4.3 percent on Monday.But the moderate CFDT union, France’s largest, did not take part in the rally, after welcoming a move by Philippe to temporarily withdraw a measure that would have forced people to work until 64 to qualify for a full pension.It was a key plank of a reform that aims to do away with France’s 42 separate pension schemes which grant early retirement and other advantages to workers in various sectors, in favour of a single system.Critics say the new points-based system will effectively require workers in both the public and private sectors to work well beyond the official retirement age of 62 to avoid curtailed pensions.“Drop this project once and for all, abandon it and come back to the negotiating table,” urged Yves Veyrier of the FO trade union.Philippe’s office estimated Wednesday that the strike had cost the SNCF around 800 million euros ($890 million), and nearly 200 million euros for the Paris transit authority RATP. But while labour leaders have called for port blockades and other walkouts to amplify their protest, demonstration numbers have steadily eroded since December, even as several polls show public support for the strike hovering at around 60 percent. RELATED ARTICLES Trump impeachment trial begins in Senate Jan 17, 2020 0 1643 Ukraine launches investigation into ‘surveillance’ of former US envoy Jan 17, 2020 0 228 Prince Harry resurfaces but stays silent on royal rumpus Jan 17, 2020 0 209 Trump’s impeachment articles read out on US Senate floor “In his conduct, and in violation of his constitutional oath... Donald J Trump has abused the powers of the presidency,” Representative Adam Schiff, one of the House managers who will lead the prosecution of the .. Greece to elect first woman president on January 22 Athens: Greece will elect its first woman president on January 22 after leading opposition parties on Thursday approved the government’s nomination of top judge Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou. Main opposition leftist .. Millennials fear nuclear attack in next decade: Red Cross survey Geneva: More than half of millennials fear there will be a nuclear attack somewhere in the world within the next decade, according to a survey by the Red Cross released on Thursday. Some 47 percent of respondents to the poll .. Govt appeals ‘unduly lenient’ sentence for UK’s most prolific rapist London: Britain’s attorney-general on Thursday appealed against a minimum 30-year prison term given to an Indonesian man described as the country’s worst-known sex offender, calling it “unduly lenient”. Geoffrey .. US Senate approves new North American trade deal AFP Washington The US Senate on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to approve a new North American trade pact, handing President Donald Trump a second back-to-back trade win just as his impeachment trial was beginning in ..