Protesters gather in Place de la Bastille (Bastille Square) during a demonstration against a reform aimed at raising the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64 on February 16, 2023 in Paris.
Paris – In France, there was another strike due to the pension reform proposed by President Emmanuel Macron. Transport, energy, air traffic controllers and prison employees joined the protest. The turnout was weaker than the last event on Saturday, AFP reported. According to the estimates of the Ministry of the Interior, around 440,000 people took part in the demonstration, and at the weekend it was 963,000 people. The reason is the school holidays that two-thirds of France have this week, as well as preparations for a major strike that the unions have called for March 7. The main criticized point of the reform is the increase in the retirement age from 62 to 64.
In Paris, the police prefecture estimated the number of demonstrators at 44,000, which is also less than on Saturday. However, the CGT trade union center claims that up to “300,000 people took part in the Paris march, compared to half a million protesters at the weekend”. According to the independent Occurrence Institute, the event in the metropolis had about 33,000 participants.
According to France24, the impact of the strike on public transport was minimal, about a fifth of the TGV high-speed train connections were cancelled, and the operation of the Paris metro was not affected at all. According to the union, 14 percent of railway workers joined the strike today, up from a quarter a week ago and almost half during the first strike in mid-January.
Paris's Orly Airport today canceled about a third of flights as a precaution to avoid congestion due to striking dispatchers. Staff at airports in Toulouse, Montpellier, Marseille and Nantes are also on strike, AFP reported.
The energy network was partly affected by a strike at the largest French hydropower plant, Grand'Maison, near Grenoble, whose employees have been on strike since Wednesday. The protests were also supported by employees of several nuclear power plants and oil operations, but the impact on supplies to the population is not expected.
The southern French city of Albi with 50,000 inhabitants became a symbol of the weeks-long demonstrations. On Saturday, 6,000 of them took to the streets there, the media refer to the village as the “capital of anger”. Alain Vidal, the great-nephew of French politician Jean Jaurèse, who was one of the founders of Social Democracy, also took part in the march there today.
“He defended all the interests of the workers and I do the same,” Vidal told BFM TV . “He was not silent in the parliament, he defended the workers and especially the miners,” added Vidal, who was part of the massive procession in Albi.
Partial data about the participation gradually appears on social networks and in the media. In Rennes, according to the trade unions, the parade counted 12,000 people, the same figure is given by the organizers for Montpellier. The authorities speak of 7,200 protesters in Montpellier and 7,000 in Marseille. Numerous processions also passed through the cities of Toulouse, Le Havre or Dieppe.