The French government is hoping the strikes against its pension reform plans may be starting to wind down as President Emmanuel Macron prepares to make his traditional New Year's address.
Metro and railway services around Paris slightly improved Tuesday, the 27th straight day of action, though trains were still disrupted outside rush hours. That suggests that an end of the protests, albeit a gradual one, may be in sight, one French official said. Mr. Macron, who's so far said little about the backlash against his efforts to streamline the public pension system, will speak on French television at 8 p.m.
Tensions are running high in France ahead of the president's speech as the protests evoke memories of the strikes that derailed earlier efforts at reform. The industrial action has already run on longer than the 1995 demonstrations that thwarted plans to change the state system for retirement and health care.
Mr. Macron will call for calm and reaffirm his commitment to modernizing a state retirement system designed in the aftermath of World War II, according to his office cited by Agence France-Presse. The president will signal he's open to dialogue but will leave his Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in charge, AFP said.
French rail operator SNCF plans to operate two out of three high-speed trains this weekend, AFP reported, citing SNCF official Pierre Matuchet. "There are more trains because there are fewer strikers," Mr. Matuchet said.
The battle with France's powerful unions will shape the 42-year-old president's ability to push on with his plans to upgrade the French state and its economy. The risk for Mr. Macron is that the labor movement helps revive the Yellow Vest protests that spread violence across France a year ago. Their combined efforts could multiply the disruption to the economy and force him to back down.