WORLD France hit by new protests after pensions deadlock


France hit by new protests after pensions deadlock


19:26, April 06, 2023

A protester gestures in front of French gendarmes during a demonstration against a pensions reform in Vire, northwestern France, on April 1, 2023. (Photo: AFP)

French demonstrators on Thursday kicked off another day of protests and strikes to denounce President Emmanuel Macron's pension reform, after the latest talks between the government and unions ended in deadlock.

Macron, currently on a visit to China, is facing the biggest challenge of his second term over his flagship pension overhaul, which includes hiking the retirement age from 62 to 64 and demanding people work longer for a full pension.

Demonstrations got under way across the country, with striking workers waving labour union flags at the Charles de Gaulle Airport near the capital, television footage showed.

Protesters in the western town of Vannes started the day dancing a conga and listening to music from a brass band, while crowds also gathered in the western city of Nantes and southern port of Marseille.

There have been signs that the two-and-a-half-month protest movement is starting to lose some momentum, and unions are hoping for a mass turnout on the 11th day of action since January.

All sides in the standoff are awaiting an April 14 verdict on the validity of the reform by France's Constitutional Council, which has the power to strike out some or even all of the legislation.

While the members of the Constitutional Council -- known as the "wise ones" (les sages) -- will deliver their verdict in line with a strict interpretation of the law, unions want to show that the protest movement still has momentum whatever the decision.

"We're still asking for the reform to be revoked," Laurent Berger, head of the centrist CFDT union, told RTL radio on Thursday morning.

"We're in the middle of a social crisis, a democratic crisis," he said.

"It's a problem... that needs to be solved by the president."

Protests descended into violent unrest after Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne invoked on March 16 a controversial executive power to ram the bill through parliament without a vote.

Police are expecting 600,000 to 800,000 people to protest nationwide on Thursday.

Terms of Service & Privacy Policy

We have updated our privacy policy to comply with the latest laws and regulations. The updated policy explains the mechanism of how we collect and treat your personal data. You can learn more about the rights you have by reading our terms of service. Please read them carefully. By clicking AGREE, you indicate that you have read and agreed to our privacy policies

Agree and continue