Protests over pension changes heat up as France strikes as President Macron defends controversial reforms


Paris — Strikes and protests across France caused transport chaos on Thursday. Furious over President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms continuation strike and took to the streets to show their anger. The chaos at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport was particularly bad, as videos on social media showed empty trash cans set on fire and police firing tear gas to control the crowd, prompting local and Commuter trains and the subway system were also hit.

An estimated 20% of teachers in the country went on strike on Thursday and about 400 high schools were shut down by students. Protests were planned in about 240 towns and cities across France.

Demonstrators burn rubble during a rally against a law to reform the national pension system in Rennes, western France, March 23, 2023.

Damian Mayer/AFP/Getty

In his first public interview on Wednesday about the unpopular pension reform sparked by weeks of social unrest, Macron said he backed his plan to launch the reform next September. These reforms will raise the retirement age in France from his 62 to his 64.

The president said he would accept his lack of popularity if he were to choose between finding a solution for his popularity and the country. About 65% say he’s a bad president, so this is a good thing. Only 30% said his defense of reform was persuasive.

In Wednesday’s interview he was criticized for his demeanor, with many calling him arrogant. He said he couldn’t have done it, but he also said people wouldn’t listen to him.

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French President Emmanuel Macron arrives for a summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels, March 23, 2023.

John Tis/Pool/AFP/Getty

He criticized the violence that marred some protests compared to what happened at the US Capitol on January 6 last year. To a pile of rubbish left by striking workers and several cars that were set on fire.

Mr Macron has long said reforms are needed to ensure that today’s young French citizens receive a pension when they retire. He says he can pay the price by doing so.

It’s not just about retirement age. With this reform, people will have to work for 44 years before they receive their full pension. If you start working at 20, that’s fine, but if you go on to higher education or take time off work to care for your kids, you’re effectively punished.

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Protesters march at a rally in Paris on March 23, 2023. Trade unions are holding their first major demonstrations since President Emmanuel Macron roused public anger by imposing a higher retirement age through parliament without a vote.

Aurélien Morrisal/AP

That aspect of the reform disproportionately affects French women who were promised improvements in these changes. It means continuing to live a worse life than

Against the backdrop of protests and travel disruptions, Charles III He is scheduled to arrive in France on Sunday for his first foreign visit as British monarch, and there are concerns about how his move will be affected. There are also security concerns as many people are canceling their vacations.

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Gestures and flares during a demonstration on National Action Day, one week after the government pushed pension reform through parliament without a vote, in Bordeaux, western France, March 23, 2023. young protesters.

Philip Lopez/AFP/Getty

Trade unions say they are ready to continue protests and strikes until the reforms are scrapped, but it is clear the government will not yield.

The bill is now before the Constitutional Council, ensuring that the text and terms of the legislation are legal under the country’s National Charter.

With only one month to pass the bill or take it to parliament, many expect unions to keep pushing, at least until the final steps are taken. Some far-left groups have said they will remain active as long as necessary.


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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