Riots continue in several cities in France over the pension reform promoted by Macron

Riot police officers in position during a demonstration in the Republic Square in Paris, France, March 21, 2023 (REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes) (GONZALO FUENTES /)

Several French cities lived this Tuesday a new night of riots with clashes between law enforcement and protesters Oppose the decision of President Emmanuel Macron to force the approval of a bill that raises the retirement age from 62 to 64 without putting it to a vote in Parliament.

In Paris, the epicenter of the protest was located in the Place de la République, where hundreds of people gathered to protest against the pension reform and confronted the riot police who came to break up the demonstration. This caused the launch of projectiles and tear gas.

Spontaneous demonstrations were also registered in other cities, such as Rennes either nanteswhere hundreds of people carried torches through the streets of the city.

Riot policemen remain in position while fireworks are fired (REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes)
Riot policemen remain in position while fireworks are fired (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes) (GONZALO FUENTES/)

Paris police said Tuesday that 234 people were arrested overnight on Monday in the French capital, mostly for setting garbage on fire in the streets.

And the French Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, expressed the government’s “solidarity” with the 400 police officers injured in recent days, 42 of them during Monday night.

The unions have appealed to maintain the social pressure against the pension reform approved by a narrow margin this Monday, after the motions of censure presented against the Executive failed, one of them by only nine votes.

A person stands near a burning scooter in Paris, France, March 21, 2023 (REUTERS/Yves Herman)
A person stands near a burning scooter in Paris, France, March 21, 2023 (REUTERS/Yves Herman) (YVES HERMAN/)

The main labor unions in the country, which maintain calls for strikes in key sectors such as transport, refineries, education or garbage collection services, have summoned a great day of mobilization for this Thursdaythe ninth so far this year against the reform that plans to delay the minimum retirement age by two years, up to 64.

President Emmanuel Macron, 45, stood firm on Tuesday in his positions on his unpopular pension reform. The liberal president, who will break his silence on Wednesday in a television interview, has already advanced in a meeting with his allies who he will not reshape his government or dissolve Parliament or submit his proposal to a referendumaccording to one of the participants.

Speaking in the lower house of Parliament on Tuesday, Borne vowed to continue working “in the coming months to find the best answers to the concerns of the French people”, including through “compromises and work with legislators”.

A protester walks next to a bonfire (REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes)
A protester walks next to a bonfire (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes) (GONZALO FUENTES/)

But leftist lawmaker Mathilde Panot warned Borne that she would “give in.” “There are not many options left for Emmanuel Macron,” added Panot, who demanded the withdrawal of the pension bill or the calling of new legislative elections.

The bill is still facing a review by the Constitutional Council before it can be formally signed into law. Borne is going to refer the matter to this body to speed up the process, according to his office. Some far-right opposition lawmakers have also filed a request, and leftists are expected to do the same.

The Constitutional Council can reject articles of the measure if they do not conform to the Constitution. Opponents argue that the text as a whole should be rejected.

A protester insults in the Republic Square in Paris (REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes)
A protester insults in the Republic Square in Paris (REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes) (GONZALO FUENTES /)

Paris police authorities said in a statement on Tuesday that they ordered the garbage employees to work to guarantee a “minimum service”. He indicated that 674 employees have accepted the orders, which has allowed 206 garbage trucks to operate since last week.

Meanwhile, oil transport in the country was partially disrupted by strikes at several refineries in the west and south of France.

Protesters meet in Paris (REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes)
Protesters gather in Paris (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes) (GONZALO FUENTES/)

The Ministry of Energy Transition announced on Tuesday that it would demand the return to work of some employees “essential for the operation” of the Fos-sur-Mer oil reservoir, In the south of france. The move prompted some protesters to head to the site to support the strikers.

Tensions have broken out between protesters trying to block access to the facilities, some throwing stones, and police using tear gas to drive them away.

The Fos-sur-Mer depot supplies fuel to gas stations in south-eastern France, which are currently bearing the brunt of the shortage. French government spokesman Olivier Veran warned that more orders could be forthcoming elsewhere in the coming days.

(With information from AFP, AP and EFE)

Keep reading:

Video: police beat and knocked out protester during protests in France

Emmanuel Macron will speak on television on Wednesday in the midst of the crisis over his pension reform project

Almost 300 detainees in France on another night of protests against Macron’s decree that imposed the pension reform

Four years after the yellow vests, popular hatred of Macron has flared up in France for the pension reform