Violent protests rekindled in Paris amid pension reform: ‘We’re not going to stop’ – National
Dozens of protesters were arrested and police injured Friday during a second night of violent clashes in Paris over French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to raise the country’s retirement age without a vote in the National Assembly.
Several thousand people gathered at the Place de la Concorde around a large bonfire as demonstrators continued to put pressure on the Macron government, which is due to face a no-confidence vote on Monday. Chants of “Macron resigned” were heard in the crowd.
As on Thursday evening, special forces charged into the crowd and used tear gas to devastate the huge square opposite the National Assembly. Some protesters grabbed wooden planks from a nearby repair site to arm themselves, throwing fireworks and rocks at police.
According to France Info and other local media, at least five officers were injured in the melee, and 60 to 70 protesters were taken into custody.
PHOTO: Protests erupt in France after Macron pushed through pension reform
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin told radio station RTL that 310 people had been arrested the night before, most of them in Paris.
On Friday evening, small groups of people broke away from the main meeting and set fire to neighboring streets.
By Saturday dawn, these streets and the Place de la Concorde had largely returned to calm.
Mostly small scattered protests took place in the cities of France, from a march in Bordeaux to a rally in Toulouse.
Trade unions uniting the opposition called on demonstrators to keep the peace during more strikes and marches in the coming days. They urged people to leave schools, factories, refineries and other jobs to force Macron to abandon his plan to force the French to work two more years, up to the age of 64, before receiving a full pension.
Macron’s government has said the plan is needed to rescue a strained pension system. But the French are deeply committed to keeping the official retirement age at 62, one of the lowest in the OECD.
“We’re not going to stop,” CGT union spokesman Regis Viesely told the Associated Press on Friday. He said that flooding the streets with discontent and refusing to continue working is “the only way to get them back.”
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Parisian rubbish collectors have extended their strike to 12 days, and heaps of stinking rubbish are growing daily in the French capital. Striking sanitation workers continued to blockade Europe’s largest waste incinerator and two other waste recycling facilities in Paris.
The streets of Paris are littered with garbage due to the strike of pensioners
Teachers’ unions have called for a strike next week that could disrupt symbolic high school baccalaureate exams.
Some of the Yellow Vest activists who staged large-scale protests against Macron’s economic policies during his first term were among those who broadcast Friday’s protest in Paris on social media. Police say there are “radicalized yellow vests” among the troublemakers at the protest marches.
Macron asked Prime Minister Elisabeth Bourne to invoke special constitutional powers to avoid Thursday’s chaotic lower house vote amid fears he would fail to win majority support for the plan.
MPs from the left and center opposition filed a vote of no confidence in parliament on Friday afternoon.
If the vote of no confidence fails, the bill becomes law. If the majority agrees, it would mean the end of the pension reform plan and force the government to resign, although Macron can always reappoint Born to appoint a new cabinet.
But the demonstrators made it clear that Macron’s attempt had crossed a line.
Continuing to vote without a vote “is a denial of democracy … a complete denial of what’s been going on in the streets for weeks,” psychologist Nathalie Alquier, 52, told Reuters in Paris. “It’s just unbearable.”
– with files from the Associated Press and Reuters
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