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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

French Protesters against Pension Reform Marching Head-to-head with Police

In some towns, police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse hooded protesters

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FRANCE: On the fringes of street protests in France on Tuesday against Emmanuel Macron’s use of constitutional executive powers to force through an unpopular increase in the pension age to 64, protesters and police clashed. Hundreds of thousands of people participated.

While protests in Paris and Nantes were peaceful, with most people chanting and calling for the pension changes to be undone, men with masks or hoods fought with police on the streets of some smaller towns.

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As the march got closer to Place de la Nation in the east of the city, some of the protesters at the front broke into a supermarket and stole things from it. They then started a fire, which made the Paris police fire tear gas and start a charge. By the afternoon, at least 22 individuals had been detained in the city, according to Paris police.

According to the reports, demonstrators in Nantes, in western France, threw projectiles at security personnel, who fired tear gas in return. Close to a courthouse, trash cans and a bank branch were set on fire. Police used water guns in Lyon, which is in southeast France. Following the destruction of bus stops in Lille, authorities used tear gas.

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Participation in the nationwide public protests in France seemed to be a little bit lower than it was on the final day of strikes and protests last Thursday. 740,000 people, according to the interior minister, participated in protests across France.

Unions have vowed to continue large-scale protests to force the government to back down nearly two weeks after the government pushed the new pensions legislation through using a special provision that did not require a vote in parliament. The increase in the retirement age, a key component of Macron’s platform before he was voted to a second term last year, is something he won’t give up.

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Tuesday saw strikes impact the transportation, energy, educational, and civil aircraft industries. Because of refinery strikes, approximately 15% of French gas outlets are running low on fuel. In Nantes, western France, protesters obstructed the city’s entrances, causing congestion in the morning. 

500 high schools across the nation, according to the FIDL high school union, have been shuttered and barricaded. Numerous university facilities were also closed and barricaded. Because of a strike by employees, the Eiffel Tower was shuttered.

According to the CGT union, trash collectors in Paris will end a three-week walkout that has caused thousands of tonnes of garbage to build up throughout half the city. However, it stated that this was done to enable worker coordination “so we can go on strike again even more strongly.”

Also Read: Police Clash with Demonstrators at Paris Protest over the Government’s Pension Reform

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