Protests against pension overhaul continue across France
By Antonio Torres del Cerro
Paris, Mar 18 (EFE).- Two days after President Emmanuel Macron’s government rammed an unpopular pension overhaul through parliament, cities across France witnessed protests Saturday that reminded some of the Yellow Vest movement of 2018.
In contrast with the multiple mass protests that preceded the National Assembly’s less-than-voluntary approval of the measure raising the retirement age from 62 to 64, most of Saturday’s events were organized via social media without the active involvement of organized labor or opposition parties.
Though not on the scale of the mobilizations that brought as many as 2 million people onto the streets, the latest demonstrations were notable for their extent, encompassing even medium-sized cities such as Mulhouse in Alsace or Compiegne in Picardy.
The largest turnout was in Paris, where at least 4,000 people took part.
Following two nights of disturbances in the capital that led to property damage and hundreds of arrests, police banned protests in the Place de la Concorde, located at one end of the Champs-Elysees, forcing demonstrators to gather instead in the smaller Place d’Italie.
The crowd in Paris included union activists and members of leftist parties along with people unaffiliated with any organization, one of the defining characteristics of the Yellow Vest movement, which originated in rural areas and the outer suburbs of the major cities.
Nearly two hours after marchers began railing against Macron’s “authoritarianism,” a few protesters set fire to dumpsters and erected barricades.
Police launched tear gas and some demonstrators pelted the cops with rocks and other projectiles.
Authorities said that 76 people were arrested in and around the Place d’Italie.
The push by unions to stop the pension bill included strikes targeting the railways, oil refineries, and trash collection, among other vital public services.
Sanitation workers in Paris have been on strike for nearly two weeks and while the national government has compelled some of them to go back to work, tons of garbage remain piled up in the capital.