Violence hits Paris in day of protests over Macron’s pension modifications By Reuters


© Reuters. Protesters stand close to burning rubbish bins throughout an illustration as a part of the ninth day of nationwide strikes and protests in opposition to French authorities’s pension reform, in Nantes, France, March 23, 2023. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe


By Horaci Garcia and Ingrid Melander

PARIS (Reuters) -Police fired tear gasoline to repel violent black-clad anarchists in Paris on Thursday as tons of of hundreds of primarily peaceable protesters marched throughout France in opposition to President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to lift the pension age.

In a ninth day of nationwide protests, prepare and air journey was disrupted whereas academics had been amongst many professions to stroll off the job, simply days after the federal government pushed by means of laws to lift the retirement age by two years to 64.

In central Paris, the place demonstrators had been usually peaceable, smaller teams of “Black Bloc” anarchists smashed store home windows, demolished avenue furnishings and ransacked a McDonalds restaurant. Clashes ensued as riot police moved in and drove again the anarchists with tear gasoline and stun grenades.

BFM TV quoted police as saying 21 folks had been arrested.

Labour unions worry that protests may flip extra violent if the federal government doesn’t take the rising well-liked anger over the pension curbs into consideration.

Roissy-Charles De Gaulle airport exterior Paris was hit by a wildcat walkout by staff.

Police fired tear gasoline at some protesters in a number of different cities, together with Nantes and Bordeaux within the west, and used water cannon in opposition to different in Rennes within the northwest.

Within the western city of Lorient, Ouest-France newspaper mentioned projectiles precipitated a quick fireplace within the yard of a police station.

“There may be numerous anger, an explosive scenario,” the chief of the hardline CGT union, Philippe Martinez, mentioned firstly of a rally in Paris. Union leaders known as for calm however had been indignant with what they known as Macron’s “provocative” feedback.

Macron broke weeks of silence on Wednesday on the brand new coverage to say he would stand agency and the legislation would come into power by the top of the 12 months. He in contrast protests to the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Opinion polls have lengthy proven {that a} majority of voters oppose the laws. They had been additional angered by the federal government’s choice final week to ram the pension modifications by means of parliament with no vote.

Many slogans and banners took purpose on the president, who prevented reporters as he arrived in Brussels for a European Union leaders summit.

Preliminary estimates from police forces throughout the nation recommended the turnout may exceed mass demonstrations earlier than the invoice was pushed by means of. The CGT union mentioned some 800,000 folks had marched within the capital.

“I got here right here as a result of I oppose this reform and I actually oppose the truth that democracy now not means something,” Sophie Mendy, an administrative medical employee, advised Reuters on the Paris rally. “We’re not being represented, and so we’re fed up.”


Electrical energy output was reduce on Thursday as unions raised strain on the federal government to withdraw the legislation. Flight companies will proceed to be decreased on the weekend, the civil aviation authority mentioned.

Protests additionally focused oil depots and blocked an liquefied terminal within the northern metropolis of Dunkirk. Rolling strikes at oil depots and refineries have led to main petrol shortages within the southeast and west of France.

Protests in opposition to the brand new legislation, which additionally accelerates a deliberate enhance within the variety of years one should work to attract a full pension, have drawn enormous crowds in rallies organised by unions since January.

Most have been peaceable however anger has mounted for the reason that authorities bypassed a vote within the decrease home of parliament, the place it lacks an absolute majority and was unsure of getting sufficient assist.

The previous seven nights have seen demonstrations in Paris and different cities with garbage bins set ablaze and clashes with police.

The most recent wave of protests represents essentially the most severe problem to Macron’s authority for the reason that “Yellow Vest” revolt of disgruntled lower-income folks 4 years in the past.

“The road has a legitimacy in France. If Mr Macron cannot bear in mind this historic actuality, I do not know what he’s doing right here,” 42-year-old leisure present employee Willy Mancel mentioned on the Nantes rally.

Shedding pay days when on strike takes a toll at a time of excessive inflation, and the federal government shall be hoping that protests and strikes ultimately lose steam.

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