Refineries have staged strikes and demonstrations across France to protest anger over the government’s raising of the retirement age.
There have been strikes at oil refineries across France, and more demonstrations are taking place across the country over widespread anger at the government for raising the state retirement age without a parliamentary vote.
Growing unrest, combined with rubbish piling up on the streets of Paris after garbage workers joined the event, has left President Emmanuel Macron facing the most serious challenge to his authority since the so-called “gilets jones,” or yellow vests protests, which began in late 2018.
A company spokesman said 37 percent of workers at Total Energy’s refineries and depots — at sites including Vysin in southeastern France and Normandy in the north — went on strike on Saturday.
Rolling strikes continued on the railways.
Riot police clashed with demonstrators Friday night in Paris during a demonstration on Place de la Concorde near the National Assembly building. Sixty-one people were arrested.
This led the Paris province to ban gatherings on the Place de la Concorde and the nearby Champs-Elysées. Police said they did so “out of serious risk of public disorder”.
But another rally is expected on Saturday in Place d’Italia in southern Paris.
Elsewhere in the French capital, a group of Permanent Revolution students and activists briefly stormed the Forum de Halle shopping centre, waving banners calling for a general strike and chanting: “Oh Paris, stop! Videos were shown on social media” Get up.
People demonstrated in towns and cities across the country after regional unions called for a weekend of protests. BFM TV also showed images of demonstrations taking place in cities including Marseille, Compiègne and Nantes.
There is no place for violence. “One has to respect parliamentary democracy,” Minister of Digital Transition and Communications Jean-Noel Barrow told Radio Sud.
Ariane Laget, 36, was among about 200 people who demonstrated in the small southern town of Lodive.
“We are fed up. We feel as if we are being trampled on and no one is listening,” she told AFP.
A broad coalition of France’s main unions said it would continue to mobilize to try to force a radical change in pension changes. Thursday is scheduled for a nationwide industrial work day.
Eight days of protests across the country since mid-January and many domestic industrial actions have so far been largely peaceful, but the unrest over the past three days is reminiscent of the yellow vests protests, which were sparked by fuel price hikes and forced Macron to partially engage. Imposing a carbon tax.
Macron’s reforms raised the two-year retirement age to 64, which the government says is needed to ensure the system does not bankrupt.
The government has said the change is needed to avoid the system’s slide into disability and bring France in line with its European neighbours, where the legal retirement age is usually higher.
But critics say the changes are unfair to people who start working at an early age in physically demanding jobs and women who take a break from their careers to raise children.