clashes erupt in France in anti-Macron pension protests

Published March 28th, 2023 - 04:23 GMT
Anti-Macron Pension Protests
New clashes erupted in France Tuesday between protesters and police as tens of thousands took to the streets to show their anger against President Emmanuel Macron's pension reform which has sparked the biggest domestic crisis of his second mandate.

ALBAWABA - The day of action is the tenth since protests began in mid-January against the law, which includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Macron, who was elected to a second term in elections last year, faces a significant challenge from the movement.

As tensions escalated into pitched battles on the streets of Paris, the most violent clashes yet between protesters and security personnel occurred on Thursday.

The protesters' rage has been further fueled by the police being accused of using excessive force, both by protesters and human rights organizations such as the Council of Europe.

According to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, 13,000 members of the security forces would be stationed on Tuesday, with 5,500 of them concentrated solely in Paris. "a major risk to public order" served as justification for the record-setting number.

An AFP reporter stated that protesters hurled projectiles at security personnel who responded with tear gas in the western city of Nantes. In addition, a bank office was set ablaze as were refuse containers around the city court.

After protesters caused damage, including smashing the glass of a bus stop, police in Lyon, southeastern France, used water cannons and tear gas in Lille, northern France, police in Paris used tear gas and a charge after protest leaders in black and with their faces covered broke into a grocery store and started a fire as the march approached Place de la Nation in the east of the city.

Paris police reported that at least 22 people had been detained in the capital by the afternoon.

At Paris's Gare de Lyon station, protesters held up trains, walked on the tracks, and lit flares in what they said was a show of support for a railway worker who had lost an eye in a previous protest.

The CGT union stated that garbage collectors in the capital will resume their three-week strike on Wednesday. This strike has resulted in the accumulation of thousands of tons of garbage in the French capital.

However, given that fewer workers were striking, it stated that this move would enable coordination with them "so we can go on strike again even more strongly."

Unions have pledged to continue holding massive protests in an effort to persuade the government to resign nearly two weeks after Macron used a special provision to force the new pensions law through parliament.

The upheaval caused King Charles III of Great Britain to postpone beginning his state visit to France on Sunday.

At the Elysee Palace on Monday, Macron had crisis talks with Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, other cabinet ministers, and senior lawmakers.

"We need to continue to hold out a hand to the unions," a participant in the meeting quoted Macron as saying, although the president rejected any revision of the pensions law.

Borne still hopes to meet union leaders and has scheduled meetings with parliamentarians, political parties, and local authorities over the course of three weeks.

Laurent Berger, the head of the moderate CFDT union, called for the appointment of a mediator between unions and the government as "a gesture in favor of cooling off, and finding a way out".

Philippe Martinez, leader of the hard-left CGT union, stated: The objective is the repeal of the pensions law.

However, Olivier Veran, a government spokesperson, stated that the law was no longer under discussion.

He stated, "It's now in the past."

The CGT union claimed that 450,000 people participated in the Parisian protests on Tuesday, which represented nearly half of those who participated in the capital's massive protest on Thursday.

Young people were prominent in the protests on Tuesday, with many of them blocking entrances to high schools and universities.

Jo Zeguelli, 19, a student at the Sorbonne university in Paris said: "Nothing is changing. Macron does not seem like he is listening to us."

Yasmine Mounib, another 19-year-old student from Lille, a northern city, stated that she agreed with the protesters.

"But they should keep some trains running for students. This is costing me my education," she said, adding she was going to miss her 8:00 a.m. (0600 GMT) class despite getting up at four.

Paris's mass transit system was severely impacted, with metro and suburban train traffic disrupted.

Workers prevented visitors from entering the world's most popular museum, the Louvre, in Paris, on Monday. The Eiffel Tower in Paris remained closed on Tuesday, as it had been on previous strike days.

Written by Salam Bustanji

You may also like


Sign up to our newsletter for exclusive updates and enhanced content