Demonstrators pass burning pallets during a protest march against pension reform in Paris, March 11, 2023.
Paris – In France's seventh round of strikes against pension reform, 368,000 people protested, including 48,000 in Paris, police said. According to the organizing CGT unions across France, the demonstrations had over a million participants, of which 300,000 were in the metropolis. It was reported by Le Monde newspaper. All of these figures are significantly lower than last Tuesday's protests, when police said 1.28 million people gathered.
Photo gallery: Resistance to pension reform in France
In Paris, the crowd started moving around 2:00 PM and was on the way through the city for over three hours. The server of the newspaper Le Monde writes about small skirmishes, throwing objects at the police, several garbage cans set on fire and broken shop windows. As of 5:00 p.m., 26 people had been detained for illegally carrying weapons and gathering for the purpose of rioting, the prefecture said.
Due to the strike, only half of the TGV high-speed trains and about 40 percent of the regional railway connections ran in France today, writes BFM TV. Traffic on the Paris metro in the vicinity of the demonstration was also disrupted.
The organizers have called the next round of protests for Wednesday, March 15, when a joint committee of MPs and senators is scheduled to meet to discuss the final wording of the criticized bill.
Already in the morning there were protests in the south of France, about 11,500 people gathered in Toulouse, significantly less than a week ago. Over 2,000 people demonstrated in Nice, slightly fewer French people also gathered in Strasbourg and Nancy to protest against the reform, according to Le Figaro. Overall, the turnout was weaker than on Tuesday, when the demonstration took place for the sixth time since the beginning of the year.
Together, the unions asked Macron for a meeting and negotiations on the reform, which is again being discussed by parliament these days. On Thursday, Macron sent a letter to the trade unionists saying he was listening to them, but declined the meeting. The head of the CGT union, Philippe Martinez, told BFM TV during the demonstrations today that Macron had “sent them to hell” with his response and was “joking”.
According to a poll by Elabe for BFM TV, 82 percent of French people think , that Macron should meet with union representatives. Almost two-thirds of those polled approve of social mobilization against the reform and 54 percent of people agree with strikes and the blockade of key sectors, according to a survey published today.
French authorities have asked airlines to cancel 20 percent of weekend flights due to fears of strikes and possible complications. Paris City Hall also announced on Thursday that as a result of the strikes, waste had begun to accumulate in the metropolis, leaving 3,700 tons of it on the streets. The strike of workers in the oil industry has only a minimal impact, today about five percent of gas stations are without fuel, writes Le Figaro.
Tuesday's sixth day of strikes attracted a record number of people. According to the estimates of the Ministry of the Interior, around 1.28 million people took part in the protests, according to trade unionists, even 3.5 million. The demonstrations criticize in particular the shift in the retirement age from 62 to 64.