Conflicts & War

French renew protests against plan to raise retirement age

By Nerea Gonzalez

Paris, Mar 11 (EFE).- People across France took to the streets Saturday for a seventh round of protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to raise the retirement age and labor leaders called on the former investment banker to negotiate days after he refused to receive them at the Elysee Palace.

“What more must be done?,” Philippe Martinez, head of the traditionally militant CGT labor federation asked rhetorically in comments to reporters during the march in Paris.

On Tuesday, more than 1 million people took part in demonstrations throughout the country accompanied by strikes that crippled schools and transportation as well as blockades of vital infrastructure such as oil refineries.

Sanitation workers have also walked off the job and refuse has been piling up in the capital and other cities.

The CGT said that Saturday’s demonstrations drew 300,000 people in Paris and a million nationwide, while the interior ministry offered estimates of 48,000 and 368,000, respectively.

“The only thing we can says today: if (Macron) is so sure of himself, let him consult the French people,” Martinez said, blasting the government’s refusal to consider changes to the plan.

The center-right government’s position amounts to “negation of the social movement,” said Laurent Berger, head of the CFDT, the largest of France’s five labor federations and seen as more moderate than the CGT.

The government is “playing with fire,” Berger said, pointing to polls showing that a large majority of the French oppose raising the retirement age.

“The evidence is that though everybody is against it and says that it won’t help anything, the government digs in its heels,” a woman named Veronique told EFE at the protest in Paris.

Eric, a retiree, said that Macron “behaves like an emperor, he mocks the people” and governs on behalf of the wealthy and big business.

Though the government is on the verge of securing Senate approval of the bill by resorting to a controversial legislative maneuver, the proposal will have to clear other hurdles to become law.

The idea of hiking the retirement age from 62 to 64 and increasing to 43 the number of years someone must work to receive a full pension is also unpopular with the far-right.

“Governing with brutality to impose a reform the French don’t want: behold their only objective,” the National Rally’s Marine Le Pen said Friday on Twitter after the ruling party moved to ram the bill through the Senate. EFE


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