extensive strikes and demonstrations continue in France for the ninth day.
According to the estimate of the French Ministry of the Interior, about 1.1 million people participated in the demonstrations on Thursday, according to a French newspaper The world and news agency AFP. There were at least more than 100,000 demonstrators in Paris alone.
The French trade union Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), on the other hand, estimates the number of protesters to be up to 3.5 million. According to it, up to 800,000 people participated in the Paris protests.
Trade unions are protesting against the unpopular pension reform, which raises the most common retirement age by two years from 62 to 64.
The pressure against the law was increased by the fact that the French president Emmanuel Macron bypassed parliament a week ago to pass the law without a vote.
Thursday was one of France’s busiest days of protests of the year, but the largest number of protesters this year was March 7, when 1.28 million people protested the same pension reform.
It is one of the biggest domestic political crises of Macron’s second presidential term.
in Paris the live broadcast showed extensive clashes between police and protesters, smoke and burning debris. The World according to the protestors broke windows and street furniture.
Several people were arrested.
Demonstrators and police also clashed elsewhere in France. In Nantes in western France, the police sprayed protesters with tear gas and in nearby Rennes with water jets, reports the news agency Reuters. Protesters across France, among other things, threw objects at police officers and police stations.
Protesters in Paris blocked access to one terminal at Charles de Gaulle airport, among other things, and some passengers had to walk to the terminal. In Toulouse, protesters blocked one lane of the highway, and in Paris, unions blocked the tracks at the Gare de Lyon train station.
In total, a British newspaper was expected for Thursday of The Guardian including at least two hundred demonstrations.
A protester jumps over burning rubbish bins in Toulouse on Thursday. Picture: Charly Triballeau / AFP
Riot police patrolled the streets of Paris on Thursday. Picture: Emmanuel Dunand / AFP
Protesters climbed on top of a car in Marseille, southern France, on Thursday. Picture: Christophe Simon / AFP
Protesters in Nantes. Picture: Loic Venance / AFP
A protester threw a smoke grenade in Reims, eastern France, on Thursday. Picture: Francois Nascimbeni / AFP
The atmosphere heated up even more on Wednesday, when Macron talked about the reform with no intention of backing down. Macron said the law would enter into force in January next year
In particular, the protesters were provoked by the fact that Macron referred in his speech to the protests on the US Capitol Hill in January 2021, where protesters took over the US Senate with the aim of overturning the outcome of the presidential election.
”[Macron] here is the one who will set the country on fire,” said a representative of the CGT trade union Celine Verzeletti according to news agency Reuters.
The unions plan to keep up the pressure. Weekend air traffic has been reduced and electricity distribution reduced.
Demonstrations against the pension reform began in January, mostly peacefully. During the past week, protesters in Paris and other cities have, among other things, set garbage containers on fire and clashed with the police.
According to polls, the majority of French people oppose the pension reform, but the government survived a vote of confidence on Monday. Macron said on Wednesday that the prime minister Elisabeth Borne trying to find more support for the law.
Minister of Labour Olivier Dussopt said that the government is aware of the tensions, but would like to move on already.
“There are many topics where we can continue the dialogue,” Dussopt said.
According to him, companies could discuss, among other things, the distribution of their profits with their employees.