HomeEuropeProtests take place across France over pension age rise

Protests take place across France over pension age rise

A man in Lille, northern France, stands next to a placard reading “No!” as he takes part in a demonstration on a national action day on Thursday March 23, a week after the government pushed a pensions reform through parliament without a vote.

Sameer Al-doumy | Afp | Getty Images

Strikes and protests around France on Thursday disrupted travel and filled the streets as citizens demonstrated against changes to the pension system.

President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday addressed the nation in a televised interview in which he maintained the government’s plans were necessary to preserve the system into the future as people live longer and the number of pensioners increases.

His bill will see the retirement age for most workers rise from 62 to 64 and the number of years a worker must pay into the system to receive a full pension rise from 42 to 43 in 2027.

However opposition lawmakers and, according to polls, a majority of the public, oppose the reforms.

Unions argue they most impact manual workers and the lower-paid, as well as women. There is also fierce anger over the government’s use of Article 49.3, a special constitutional measure that allows it to pass a bill through the lower house of parliament without a majority vote.

On Thursday, unions accused Macron of making “provocative” comments after he said they had failed to engage in negotiations over changes to the pension system and compared the protests to the raiding of the U.S. Capitol in 2021. Macron also acknowledged people had a right to voice their opposition and that there was anger over businesses making record profits while some people were being asked to work for longer.

Unions had called for a national day of action around the country.

In some places, police fired tear gas and used a water cannon, Reuters reported. Near Toulouse, burning piles of debris blocked traffic, and protesters blocked part of Charles De Gaulle Airport. Police have been clashing with protesters at night in Paris through the week.

Meanwhile, electricity output was cut, refinery blockages continued and the civil aviation authority said flight services would be reduced into the weekend.

Protesters walk during a demonstration in Nantes.┬áThe central sign reads ‘Long live retirement,” and “We’ve got a job, it’s not to die for’

Loic Venance | Afp | Getty Images

People take part in a rally in Rennes. A recent Elabe poll found 69% of people believed the use of Article 49.3 was a ‘denial of democracy’

Damien Meyer | Afp | Getty Images

Protesters hold a placard reading ‘Who sows misery harvests anger,’ as French leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon addresses media in Marseille

Christophe Simon | Afp | Getty Images

Vehicles from French Energy distribution company Enedis drive under a bridge reading ‘Basta (enough) 49.3, retirement at 60’ in Marseille

Nicolas Tucat | Afp | Getty Images

Demonstrators walk on the ‘Vieux Port’ in Marseille

Nicolas Tucat | Afp | Getty Images

Unions block the railway station in Quimper, north western France

Fred Tanneau | Afp | Getty Images

Striking members of the General Confederation of Labour union block an access road to the EPPLN oil depot in Port La Nouvelle in southern France

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Long lines of motorists queue to refuel at a TotalEnergies gas station on the outskirts of Marseille

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Police officers run through central Paris firing tear gas canisters to deter protesters on Wednesday night

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Demonstrators run away from police through the main streets of the French capital during a protest

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Mounds of trash have built up in parts of Paris due to a strike by garbage collectors

Mustafa Yalcin | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images



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