The French unions star this Thursday in a new day of protests and locks against pension reform of Emmanuel Macronwith the paralyzed refineries and mass transit cancellationsafter the president promised to apply the measure “before the end of the year.”
The interruption of supply from refineries has raised concerns about the fuel shortage for planes at Paris airports, adding to a growing list of crisis headaches that include piles of trash in Paris and questions about the impending state visit of the King Charles III.
Macron said on Wednesday that he was ready to accept unpopularity because the bill that raises the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64 years was “necessary” and “in the general interest of the country.”
In Paris, hundreds of protesters flooded the train tracks on Thursday morning in the Gare de Lyondisrupting traffic and causing a delay of at least half an hour, according to national rail operator SNCF.
“And we will continue, we will continue, we will continue until the revocation” of the reform, they chanted.
Thursday were scheduled protests across the countryon the last day of national strikes that began in mid-January against changes in pensions.
The Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmannannounced the deployment of some 12,000 police officers, 5,000 of them in Paris.
It’s scary to get old
Earlier in the day, the protesters blocked road access to Terminal 1 of Charles de Gaulle airport of the capital, according to images from French television.
Half of the high-speed trains across the country were cancelled, according to the SNCF, while a union source claimed that a quarter of the staff were on strike.
At least half of the trains commuter trains bound for Paris did not circulate.
In the suburb of Nanterre, Paul Kantola, a 57-year-old carpenter, said he had to get up at 5 a.m. to get to work on time, but he agreed with the protesters.
“It is scary to grow old in these conditions. When you have a pension it is not enough to live“, said.
The Paris municipal garbage collectors have pledged to maintain a continuous strike until Mondaywhile thousands of tons of garbage rot in the streets.
Following Macron’s instructions, the Prime Minister, Elizabeth Borneinvoked an article of the Constitution a week ago to approve the reform without a parliamentary vote.
The government narrowly survived a vote of no confidence on Monday, but the indignation It has generated the biggest internal crisis of Macron’s second term.
A poll on Sunday showed the Macron’s personal approval rating at just 28 percentits lowest level since the heyday of the “Yellow Vests” anti-government protest movement in 2018-2019.
Airport fuel “under pressure”
About a fifth of school teachers did not show up for work on Thursdaysaid the Ministry of Education.
Blockades at oil refineries were also to continue, with only one site TotalEnergies in four working at home.
The Ministry of Energy Transition warned on Thursday that the supply of kerosene to the capital and its airports was becoming “critical”.
The General Directorate of Civil Aviation has warned that its Fuel reserves at the two main Paris airports are “under pressure”, and has urged planes to refuel at stopovers abroad.
In recent days they have exploded spontaneous protests daily, which have resulted in hundreds of arrests and heavy-handed accusations by the police.
International Amnesty has expressed alarm “at the widespread use of excessive force and arbitrary detentions that have been reported by various media.”
The chief of the Paris police, Laurent Nunezdenied this point on Thursday, stating that the security forces only detained people who congregated “with the intention of committing violent acts.”
On Wednesday night, hundreds of people took to the streets again in Paristhe city of lyons (southeast) and the city of Lille (north), according to authorities.
Although the constitutional Court has yet to give the last word on the reform, Macron said on Wednesday in a televised interview to the channels TF1 and French 2 that the changes had to “go into effect by the end of the year.”
Macron backed down from his earlier statements, in which he claimed that the crowds demonstrating “had no legitimacy”, saying that organized protests were “legitimate”, but that violence should be condemned and that blockades should not impede normal activity.
The government has stated that the reform is necessary to prevent the system from going into deficit and to put France on a par with its European neighbours, where the legal retirement age is often higher.
Critics say the changes are unfair to people with physically demanding jobs and women who take career breaks to have children.
The tensions have also raised questions about whether France will be able to host the King Charles III of the UK when he arrives on Sunday for his first overseas state visit as monarch.
(With information from AFP)
Anger grows in France and the risk of radicalization increases after Macron’s words
Riots continue in several cities in France over the pension reform promoted by Macron
Video: police beat and knocked out protester during protests in France