More than 800,000 people march against Macron as strikes grip France

أخر تحديث : vendredi 6 décembre 2019 - 7:44
More than 800,000 people march against Macron as strikes grip France

More than 800,000 people have marched in cities across France as railway workers, teachers and hospital staff held one of the biggest public sector strikes in decades against Emmanuel Macron’s plans to overhaul the pension system

A nationwide transport strike brought much of France to a standstill and was expected to continue for the next few days as unions dug in, saying the president’s pension changes would force millions of people to work longer or receive lower payments

Trains, metros and bus services were severely hit, some flights were cancelled and many schools were closed in the biggest challenge to Macron’s reform agenda since the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) anti-government protests erupted last year

In Paris, police briefly fired teargas during skirmishes with black-clad protesters on the edges of the trade union-led march in the early afternoon. Some protesters set fire to a storage trailer, smashed windows and a bus shelter, and overturned cars. Firefighters put out small fires lit in bins

More than 6,000 riot police lined the route of the demonstration from Paris Gare du Nord to the east of the city, while groups of officers stopped people walking towards the demonstration and searched bags. By late afternoon there had been more than 70 arrests and 9,000 searches

Riot police in Nantes, western France, fired teargas at masked protesters, who hurled projectiles at them

Protesters clash with French riot police during the demonstration against pension reforms in Paris. Photograph: Christophe Petit-Tesson/EPA

The Paris march included hospital staff, electricity workers, firefighters, teachers and school pupils as well as gilets jaunes protesters who had taken part in blockades on roundabouts earlier this year. Banners read: Macron out

Demonstrators in Paris on Thursday. Photograph: Christophe Petit-Tesson/EPA

Public transport unions said they would extend their strike until at least Monday, after 90% of TGV and regional trains were cancelled and nearly all lines on the Paris metro were affected

Sandrine Berger, an engineering lecturer at a Paris university and a representative for the leftwing CGT union, said: This is about protecting public services, which are being chipped away and turned towards an American model of privatisation

She criticised the government for suggesting public sector workers were privileged. With two PhDs, a 26-year career and a senior job running a department of 70 people, Berger said she earned €2,200 (£1,860) a month before tax, including bonuses

Grégory Chaillou, a fire officer, said: We’ll see this through to the end. The public understands the need to support public services and workers

As commuters in Paris turned to using bikes and scooters, the environmental group Extinction Rebellion claimed responsibility for the sabotage of 3,600 electric scooters in Paris and other French cities, saying the green image of the fashionable gadgets hid an “ecologically catastrophic” reality

Extinction Rebellion said it had sabotaged the scooters, including more than 2,000 in Paris as well as in Bordeaux and Lyon, by obscuring the QR codes that riders use to unlock them with their smartphones

Contrary to their reputation as a ‘soft’ or ‘green’ way of getting around, the electric scooters are ecologically catastrophic, the group said in a statement on its French Facebook page


By Angelique Chrisafis-

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