May 18. 2024. 2:52

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Clashes as French protesters rally against Macron’s pension bill

Police in Paris were confronted by black-clad groups that set fire to garbage containers and threw projectiles at them. They also charged at them and used teargas to disperse protestors against President Emmanuel Macron’s deeply unpopular pension bill.

On Tuesday (28 March), clashes broke out at rallies similar to those in Rennes, Bordeaux, and Toulouse. A bank branch was set on fire in Nantes.

Although public anger has morphed into more anti-Macron sentiments, violence was much lower than last week. Rally attendees were generally peaceful.

Live footage from BFM TV shows that one man was lying motionless on the ground following a Paris police officer’s charge. The same footage went viral on social networks. The man was rescued by police who stopped to help him but didn’t respond to a request to comment.

The government refused to suspend and rethink the pension law, which raised retirement age by two years to 64. This angered labour leaders, who demanded that the government find a way to end the crisis.

The government stated that it is more than willing and able to meet with unions on other topics but reiterated its commitment to pensions. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne offered to meet with unions on Monday and Tuesday.

Since mid-January, millions of people have joined strike action and demonstrated against the bill. The unions stated that April 6 would be the next day of nationwide protests.

Protests have been more intense as the government used special powers in order to force the bill through parliament without any vote.


Paris: A protestor held a banner with the words "France is angry" and displayed it.

Fanny Charier (31), who works for Pole Emploi, a job-seeker office, said that the bill "acted as a catalyst to anger over Macron’s policies."

Macron, who in both his presidential campaigns promised reform on pensions, said that change was necessary to balance the country’s finances. Opposition parties and unions say that there are other options.

Laurent Berger (head of the CFDT union), stated that they had proposed a solution and were being ignored again.


On Thursday, the "Black Bloc" anarchists demolished bus stops, smashed shop windows and ransacked a McDonald’s in Paris. Similar acts were also carried out in other cities.

This was the worst street violence France had seen in years, recalling protests against Macron’s yellow vest movement.

Despite some clashes, rallies on Tuesday were peacefulr.

The boarded up front of a BNP Paribas branch in Nantes was set ablaze. One car was set ablaze near the rally’s fringes, and others fired fireworks at police.

Protesters also blocked Rennes’ ring road in western France and set a car on fire. Protesters also blocked trains tracks in Marseille and Paris for a time.

Travel disruption was continued by rolling strikes in the transportation, aviation and energy industries.

Paris’s garbage collectors announced that they would suspend a week-long strike that left streets around iconic landmarks littered with trash.

Teachers were also less on strike than in previous days. Union leaders claimed that high inflation made it more difficult for workers to give up a day of pay at the picket lines.

According to the Interior Ministry, 740,000 protestors marched in the country on Tuesday. This is well below the 1.09 million who demonstrated at the March 23rd rally. Paris numbers were lower than last week’s record, but they were higher or equal to previous demonstrations since January.

Nevertheless, 17% of French fuel stations were without at least one product on Monday night, France’s petroleum association UFIP stated citing data from the energy ministry.

Charles de Courson from the opposition Liot party said that French authorities should take lessons from the Israel situation, where the government had just stopped a controversial justice overhaul.

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