Renewed mobilization and violence in France against the pension reform
Protests against the pension reform in France experienced a resurgence of tensions on Thursday, particularly in Paris where clashes pitted protesters against the police.
The mobilization against the pension reform remained very strong on Thursday in France, a week after the government passed by force on this text, with a radicalization of the movement which resulted in an increase in violence.
In total, 3.5 million people demonstrated in more than 300 cities in France, according to the CGT union, and 1.08 million, according to the Ministry of the Interior.
A massive mobilization for this 9th day of action, but the first since the government used a constitutional provision, 49.3, to pass the text without a vote on March 16.
Paris has seen a record number of demonstrators, and the mobilization is up nationwide compared to the 8th day of mobilization on March 15 (480,000 demonstrators), while remaining lower than others days in January or March, depending on the Ministry of the Interior. The unions evoke a level equivalent to the record of March 7.
While, according to a source close to the government, the executive hoped that the protest would wither and that everything would be back to normal this weekend, the unions have already called to a 10th day of national action on Tuesday.
They underlined the determination of the world of work and youth to obtain the withdrawal of the reform which provides in particular for the decline of Age 62 to 64 from retirement.
The protests, strikes and walkouts are a response to the president's incomprehensible stubbornness, the unions have pointed out. They believe that the responsibility for the explosive situation, with the multiplication of incidents, lies with the government.
In the early evening, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin , indicated that 123 gendarmes and police officers had been injured on Thursday, and more than 80 people arrested.
Shortly before the departure of the Paris procession, the secretary general of the reformist union CFDT, Laurent Berger, had noted a renewed mobilization and had called for non-violence. Until the end, we will have to keep the opinion which is a nugget, he said, while the challenge has been radicalized for a few days.
At his side, his CGT counterpart Philippe Martinez felt that President Emmanuel Macron had thrown a can of gasoline on the fire with his interview the day before, in which he remained inflexible, sometimes sharp, reaffirming the need to its reform.
The general secretary of the CGT union, Philippe Martinez, claims that President Emmanuel Macron “threw a can of gasoline on the fire” by having affirmed on Wednesday that the reform must be applied “before the end of the year”.
In Paris, where the CGT announced 800,000 demonstrators and the ministry 119,000, violence quickly broke out at the head of the procession: cobblestones, bottles and fireworks thrown at the police, shop windows and broken bus shelters and garbage can fires.
The police headquarters identified around a thousand radical elements in the capital, where the situation remained chaotic at the start of the evening, with incidents still ongoing.
In Nantes and Rennes (west) too, clashes opposed demonstrators to the police, who used tear gas and water cannons. In Lorient, the police station was targeted.
More or less strong tensions were also observed in other cities such as Toulouse, Bordeaux (south-west) or Lille (north).
In the processions, the anger was palpable, with a lot of resentment towards the Head of State.
Despite the strong unpopularity of the text according to the polls, Mr. Macron insisted on Wednesday that the reform should be applied before the end of the year, and he invoked the defense of the general interest against to the financial deterioration of pension funds and the aging of the population.
I would like to say thank you to Emmanuel Macron. He is so arrogant and besides his pumps that every time he speaks, you just want to take your flag to go on a demonstration, explained in Paris Fabien Villedieu, a union delegate.
In Strasbourg (east), Nathalie Cholley, a 47-year-old caregiver, demonstrated to defend her future, but also to protest against Emmanuel Macron's policy and his contempt. I don't like the way he speaks to the French, there is a real lack of respect.
The processions were marked by a strong participation of young people. A few dozen of the 3,750 French high schools and colleges as well as universities have been blocked.
It is symbolic. We want to show our dissatisfaction with this reform, explained Redouane, 23, in front of the Parisian law school of Assas, blocked for the first time since the beginning of the movement.
Thursday, rail transport and the Paris metro were very disrupted, the unions having called for a black day.
The supply of kerosene to the Paris region and its airports by Normandy (west) is becoming critical due to strikes in refineries, the Ministry of Energy Transition told AFP.
The government has already taken a requisition order for strikers at the TotalEnergies refinery in Normandy, shut down last weekend and where fuel shipments are blocked.
And more symbolically, for tourists, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Palace of Versailles have remained closed.