France experiences ‘hell day’ due to intense strikes and antipension reform demonstrations

France experiences ‘hell day’ due to intense strikes and antipension reform demonstrations

More than a million people, 80,000 in Paris alone, took to the streets; Authorities urged citizens to work from home because of the closures

EFE/EPO/YOAN VALATstrike in France
French unionists march behind a banner reading ‘Pension, not another day’ during a nationwide strike against pension reforms.

Violent strikes and demonstrations broke out France This Thursday, 19th, more than a million people 1.12 million , 80 thousand in Paris alone, protested against the pension reform advocated by the President Emmanuel Macron, said the Interior Ministry. The ministry’s data exceeds the target set by organizers of one million participants, despite falling short of the 2 million estimated by CGT union leader Philippe Martinez. “Big demonstration day. If all the unions agree, something unusual, it’s because the problem is very serious,” CGT union general secretary Philippe Martinez told the Public Sénat network. Pension reform is one of the key measures promised by the 45yearold French President during the election campaign that led to his reelection last April after having to abandon a first project in 2020 due to the arrival of the pandemic. The French newspaper Le Parisien points out that the reform project that Macron is trying to push through represents a “crucial test” for Macron about his mandate and about “the mark he will leave in history”.

Initially, the President wanted to move retirement from 62 to 65, but his Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne eventually set the age at 64 but brought forward the requirement to contribute 43 years to receive full retirement to 2027. These two points provoked social and trade union rejection. According to an Ipsos poll published on Wednesday, 81 percent of French people believe that reform is necessary, 61 percent reject it and 58 percent support the strike movement. The first union united front since 2010, when it tried in vain to prevent the government of conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy from raising the retirement age from 60 to 62, aims to bring a million protesters onto the streets.

The first started in Toulouse and Marseille and in the morning in Paris. The population is trying to achieve the same success as in 1995, when a violent protest in winter, which left subways and trains on the platforms for more than three weeks, most recently paralyzed a pension reform. Minister Clément Beaune has already warned that today would be a “hell day” for transport and urged citizens to work from home, where many also have to look after their children, as 70% of teachers are also said to be on strike are unions.