Protests held in France amid anger at Macron’s pension reform | Protests News

Protests held in France amid anger at Macron’s pension reform | Protests News

Strikes and refinery demonstrations were held across France in anger over the government raising the state pension age.

Refinery strikes have been held across France, and more demonstrations are taking place across the country amid widespread anger at the government for raising the state pension age without a parliamentary vote.

The escalating unrest, with garbage piled up on the streets of Paris after workers refused to join the action, has left President Emmanuel Macron with the most serious challenge to his authority since the so-called “Gilets Jaunes”, or Yellow Vests protest, which started in late 2018.

Thirty-seven percent of operational staff at TotalEnergies’ refineries and depots – at sites including Feyzin in southeastern France and Normandy in the north – went on strike on Saturday, a company spokesman said.

Rolling strikes continued on the railways.

Riot police clashed with protesters on Friday night in Paris as a demonstration took place on the Place de la Concorde near the National Assembly building. Sixty-one people were arrested.

This led the Paris prefecture to ban rallies on the Place de la Concorde and the nearby Champs-Elysees. The police said they were doing this “because of the serious risk of disturbances to public order”.

A further rally, however, is expected on Saturday at Place d’Italie in southern Paris.

Elsewhere in the French capital, a group of students and activists from the Permanent Revolution collective briefly stormed the Forum des Halles shopping mall, waving banners calling for a general strike and shouting, “Paris, stand up! Get up,” videos on social media showed.

People marched in towns and cities across the country after regional unions called for a weekend of protests. BFM television also showed images of demonstrations taking place in cities including Marseille, Compiegne and Nantes.

“There is no place for violence. One must respect parliamentary democracy,” Minister of Digital Transition and Telecommunications Jean-Noel Barrot told Sud Radio.

Ariane Laget, 36, was among about 200 people who demonstrated in the small southern town of Lodeve.

“We are fed up. It’s like we’re being trampled on and no one is listening,” she told the AFP news agency.

A broad alliance of France’s main unions said it would continue to mobilize to try to force a U-turn on pension changes. A day of national industrial action is planned for Thursday.

People carry an object next to a fire during clashes at a demonstration to protest the French government's use of article 49.3, a special clause in the French Constitution, to push through the pension reform bill by the National Assembly without a vote of lawmakers, in Nantes, France, March 18, 2023. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
People protest in Nantes, France [Stephane Mahe/Reuters]

Eight days of protests across the country since mid-January and many local industrial actions have so far been largely peaceful, but the chaos of the past three days is reminiscent of the Yellow Vests protests, which erupted in high fuel prices and forced Macron to a partial U. -turn on the carbon tax.

Macron’s overhaul raised the pension age by two years to 64, which the government says is essential to ensure the system does not collapse.

The government says the change is necessary to prevent the system from slipping into deficit and bring France into line with its European neighbors, where the legal retirement age is generally higher.

But critics say the changes are unfair for people who start working at a young age in menial jobs and women who interrupt their careers to raise children.