Emmanuel Macron to address nation on transport strike crisis

French President Emmanuel Macron, who has remained largely silent on the current strike action that is crippling the nation's public transport services, is expected to address the crisis over his pension reforms in his New Year message as a nationwide strike threatens to become the longest in French history.

The strike is now the second-longest in French history and is on course to surpass the longest, which lasted for 28 days in the winter of 1986/87.

The president’s annual televised remarks are likely to indicate how he intends to tackle the widespread stoppages in protest at his plan to merge 42 public pension schemes into a single, points-based system.

Fewer than half of national carrier SNCF's services were running and many Paris metro lines remained shut on Monday as the strike entered its 26th consecutive day.

In an interview with Dimanche newspaper, Deputy Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari accused the hardline CGT union of a "systematic opposition to any reform.”

However, the union's chief, Philippe Martinez, accused the government of trying to ensure the conflict deteriorated further.

"Emmanuel Macron presents himself as a man of a new world but he is imitating Margaret Thatcher," he said. "There is real anger. Of course, not being paid for 24 days is tough. But the conflict is the result of two-and-a-half years of suffering.”

He said he expected Macron to offer some kind of conciliation in his address on Tuesday evening, as well as recognition that "most people are not happy and that he was wrong.”

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