Massive protest in France: more than a million people demonstrated against Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform

Millions of French people took to the streets to demonstrate again against the pension reform promoted by Macron (REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes) (GONZALO FUENTES /)

The mobilization in France against the pension reform of President Emmanuel Macron entered a new phase on Tuesday when registering his biggest protest and the start of an extendable strike in key sectors.

Some 1.28 million people, according to the government (3.5 million, according to the CGT union) participated in the largest protest against social reform in three decades and slightly higher than that of January 31 -between 1.27 million (police) and 2.8 million (CGT)-.

The second economy of the European Union (EU) lived its sixth day of strike since January 19 at the call of the unions against the project of the Macron government to toughen the conditions to access a full pension.

At the end of the day, the union front asked the French president for an “urgent” meeting because his “silence is no longer possible” and called a new protest on Saturday and another next week, coinciding with key moments in the parliamentary process of the project.

“We will not give up. We have to impact the government so that it gives in”said Patrick, a 61-year-old retiree from the railway sector, who demonstrated in the rain along with some 6,000 other people, according to the unions, in Calais (north).

A Parisian protester holds a sign reading
A Parisian protester holds a sign with the legend “Macron, the agitator of the century” (REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier) (SARAH MEYSSONNIER/)

The unions also supported the demonstrations on Wednesday on the occasion of International Women’s Day and on Thursday, at the call of the students, two of the groups that are among the most affected by the reform.

In front of them, the president is playing an important part of his political creditafter the pandemic forced him to abandon a previous reform during his first term, also marked by the social protest of the “yellow vests”.

But two out of three French people, according to polls, remain opposed to his project of delaying the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030 and bringing forward to 2027 the requirement to contribute 43 years (and not 42, as now) to collect a full board. A majority supports the strikes.

The protests registered this Tuesday isolated clashes with security forces in several cities, including Pariswhere 43 people were detained, according to police.

After weeks of unsuccessful peaceful protests since January 19, the unions have intensified their fight against a government firm in its position, at the end of the winter school holidays in France. Their goal was to “paralyze” the economy.

People attend a demonstration against the French government's pension reform plan in Paris, as part of the sixth day of national strike and protests (REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier)
People attend a demonstration against the French government’s pension reform plan in Paris, as part of the sixth day of national strike and protests (REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier) (SARAH MEYSSONNIER/)

The day dawned with blocked roads from Rennes (west) to Perpignan (south), with the suspension of fuel shipments from all refineries, with a strike by garbage collectors, with schools closed, trains and flights cancelled, etc.

In Annonay (southeast), stronghold of the Minister of Labour, Olivier Dussopt, more than 2,000 homes were left without electricity, said the company Enedis. Other possible “wild” supply cuts were registered in Boulogne-sur-Mer and Neuville-en-Ferrain (north).

On Monday, the strikers already paralyzed three of the four methane terminals for “seven days” and, since Friday, They cause electricity production to fall in the nuclear sector.

But despite the strong mobilization in the streets, the percentage of strikers was lower than that registered at the beginning of the movement, especially among train service workers (39% at noon according to the unions) and teachers (a third, according to government).

protests in France
Protesters demand that the Government withdraw the pension reform project (AFP)

After failing in her attempt to convince the reform to avoid a future deficit in the pension fund, the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Bornenow seeks to discredit the opposition movement and on Monday called the union’s new strategy “irresponsible.”

The last time the French managed to stop a pension reform was in 1995. The unions paralyzed train and metro services for three weeks and managed to maintain massive support in public opinion.

But time is pressing. In the absence of an official majority in Parliament, the government chose a controversial procedure that allows it to apply it, if the two chambers have not ruled on it in the same terms by the end of March.

(With information from AFP)

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18 photos of the protests against the pension reform that paralyze France