The protest against pension reform in France is spreading. According to the CGT union, 3.5 million people demonstrated across the country on Tuesday, paralyzing large parts of public life for the sixth time in as few weeks. On the other hand, the French Ministry of the Interior spoke of 1.28 million demonstrators. The UGTT estimated that around 700,000 people took to the streets in Paris alone. On the other hand, the Paris police counted 81,000 demonstrators.
One prominent trade unionist said, “When so many people are out on the streets and the government is so bad at justifying what it is doing, it should pull the reform.” Riots broke out on the sidelines of the protest march in Paris. The demonstrators destroyed bus stops, set up barricades, and clashed with security forces, who in turn used tear gas.
“Shell the country”
The unions had issued the slogan “to paralyze the whole nation.” In fact, 80 percent of long-distance trains have been cancelled, and local public transport in Paris and other major cities has been severely affected. The demonstrators shut down all the country’s oil refineries, preventing gas stations from being supplied with fuel. About a quarter of all flights have been cancelled.
Lessons have been canceled in many schools, and about a third of the teaching staff has stopped working. The Ministry of Education has counted 48 secondary schools that are partially blocked. A poster hangs in front of a Parisian high school clogged with rubbish bins that reads “No to compulsory service”, which the government wants to introduce to young people. Many universities have also been banned.
“Today is the beginning of a new phase, and strikes will continue in many places,” said CGT union leader Felipe Martinez. Another protest day on Saturday was under discussion.
According to opinion polls, two out of three French people oppose the reform, which includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 65. After a preliminary debate in the National Assembly, the Senate, the second chamber of Parliament, is currently debating the bill.
He retired at the age of sixty
The discussion is scheduled to end at midnight on Sunday. It is possible that the bill could pass as early as March 16 with conservative Republican votes.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), people in France retire on average at the age of 60, and the average life expectancy is 80 years.
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