French trade unions have launched a day of strikes and rallies against controversial pension reforms
French trade unionists took to the streets of Paris on Friday as transport, education, and medical workers walked off their jobs nationwide. Video from Paris showed police clubbing and tackling demonstrators.
Organized by a coalition of France’s largest trade unions, the strike saw airport and railway workers, teachers, and energy sector employees stage a walkout. A separate strike was organized by private doctors, who are demanding the freedom to increase their prices to match inflation.
In Paris, workers carrying trade union flags marched through the city center. Although the demonstration was smaller in attendance than the rallies held earlier this year when President Emmanuel Macron signed the pension reform bill, the same clashes and vandalism that characterized the earlier protests soon broke out.
The demonstrators’ route was flanked by riot police, who charged into action when black-clad protesters began smashing the windows of a bank. Footage captured by video agency Ruptly showed numerous masked rioters being arrested, before officers began clubbing nearby protesters with batons.
In footage shared on social media, armored police officers were seen tackling some demonstrators to the ground and violently shoving others.
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Paris police did not say how many people were arrested, but that “a few” were detained. The CGT trade union said that 20,000 people took part in the demonstration, and that a total of 200,000 protested in other towns and cities across France.
The day of disruption came exactly six months after Macron signed into law a bill raising the retirement age for most French workers from 62 to 64, and three days before the unions are set to meet with the president for pay talks.
Aside from the retirement hike, Friday’s protests took place against the backdrop of persistently high inflation, which remained stuck at 5% year-on-year in September. Energy and food prices have spiked higher, however, at 12% and 10% respectively.
October 14, 2023 at 12:31AM