More than a million people demonstrated during a cross-industry strike and protest day in France against the planned pension reforms of the center government under President Emmanuel Macron.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, more than 1.27 million people took to the streets against what is probably the government's most important project; the CGT union spoke of 2.8 million people. Meanwhile, there were strikes at schools, in refineries and on the railways, which also affected rail traffic to Germany. 11,000 police officers and gendarmes were deployed nationwide. Almost two weeks ago there were major protests against the planned increase in the retirement age from 62 to 64 years.
Accompanied by music and protest songs, the demonstration in Paris started moving in the afternoon. Families with children, students and older people joined the protest. Although the government's reform plans upset many people in France, the mood remained good. "Let's save our pension" or "Live better/older" could be read on the signs.
Reform plans are already being examined
The unions consider the reform to be unjust and brutal. According to the Ministry of the Interior, more than a million people took part in the first major day of action almost two weeks ago. The unions spoke of two million people. According to them, participation was now higher than two weeks ago.
In the meantime, the reform project is already being examined by the responsible social committee of the National Assembly and is to be discussed in the plenary session starting next week. With the support of the conservative Républicains, President Macron is hoping for a majority there for what is probably the biggest project of his second term, but there are reservations in their ranks.
It is also not clear how the showdown between the unions and the government on the streets will continue. In addition to mass protests, the president and his government fear long-lasting strikes, for example in transport companies or refineries, which could paralyze the country. Some unions have already spoken out in favor of extendable strikes. During Macron's first term in office, there had been strikes for weeks against his plan for pension reform at the time. Ultimately, the reform was postponed because of the pandemic.