Protests in France amid anger over Macron’s pension reform | News of the protests

Strikes and protests at refineries are taking place across France due to anger at the government raising the legal retirement age.

Refinery strikes have taken place across France and further protests are taking place across the country due to widespread anger at the government for raising the legal retirement age without a parliamentary vote.

The growing unrest, combined with the rubbish piling up on the streets of Paris after garbage collectors joined the action, has left President Emmanuel Macron with the gravest challenge to his authority since the so-called “Vests Jaunes”, or demonstrations of yellow vests, which began at the end of 2018.

Thirty-seven percent of operational staff at TotalEnergies refineries and depots – at sites such as Feyzin in southeastern France and Normandy in the north – were on strike on Saturday, a spokesman for the company said. Company.

Rolling strikes continue on the railways.

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

This led the Paris prefecture to ban gatherings in Place de la Concorde and the nearby Champs-Elysées. Police said they were doing so ‘due to serious risk of public disorder’.

A new rally was however expected on Saturday on the Place d’Italie in the south of Paris.

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

People marched in cities and towns across the country after regional unions called for a weekend of protests. BFM television also broadcast images of ongoing protests in cities such as Marseille, Compiègne and Nantes.

“There is no place for violence. Parliamentary democracy must be respected,” Minister of Digital Transition and Telecommunications Jean-Noël Barrot told Sud Radio.

Ariane Laget, 36, was among some 200 people demonstrating in the small southern town of Lodève.

“We are fed up. We feel like we are being trampled on and no one is listening to us,” she told 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 nationwide day of labor action is scheduled for Thursday.

People carry an object next to a fire during clashes during a demonstration to protest against the French government's use of Article 49.3, a special clause of the French Constitution, to push through the draft law on the reform of pensions in the National Assembly without a vote of the legislators, in Nantes, France, March 18, 2023. REUTERS / Stephane Mahé
People protest in Nantes, France [Stephane Mahe/Reuters]

Eight days of nationwide protests since mid-January and many local industrial actions have so far been largely peaceful, but the unrest of the past three days is reminiscent of the Yellow Vest protests, which erupted over prices high on fuel and forced Macron to a partial U. -activate a carbon tax.

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

The government said the change was needed to prevent the system from sliding into deficit and bringing France into line with its European neighbours, where the statutory retirement age is generally higher.

But critics say the changes are unfair to people who start working at a young age in physically demanding jobs and women who take career breaks to raise children.

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