In France, strikes and protests against pension reforms have escalated. Opponents of the reform blocked individual train stations, roads and part of Charles-de-Gaulle Airport in Paris on Thursday, as reported by the media. The mood at protests in Bordeaux, Nantes and Rennes was therefore heated. In Paris, too, the police used tear gas in the afternoon. Individual people were arrested in the capital.
The protests are directed against the gradual increase in the retirement age from 62 to 64 and the actions of the center government under President Emmanuel Macron. 12,000 police officers and gendarmes were deployed. The authorities spoke of almost 1.09 million demonstrators nationwide. According to the CGT union, 3.5 million people took part.
violence has increased
The days of strikes and protests had been mostly peaceful for weeks. In recent days, spontaneous demonstrations have increasingly turned violent. "We want non-violent actions that respect goods and people," demanded Laurent Berger of the CFDT union.
With the reform, the middle government wants to close an impending gap in the pension fund. The dispute intensified a week ago because she pushed the text through the National Assembly without a vote. Two motions of no confidence in the government failed on Monday evening. The reform has thus been passed. It is to be examined by the Constitutional Council. It is still unclear when this decision will be made. Macron wants the reform to come into force by the end of the year.
Currently, the retirement age in France is 62 years. In fact, retirement begins later on average: those who have not paid in long enough to receive a full pension work longer. At the age of 67 there is then a pension without any deductions, regardless of how long it has been paid in - the government intends to keep this, even if the number of years required to pay in for a full pension is to increase more quickly. She wants to increase the monthly minimum pension to around 1,200 euros.
"You think I'm having fun?"
Macron had defended the controversial reform in a television interview the day before. The reform is very difficult. "We ask people to make an effort. It's never popular." He asked, "Do you think I'll enjoy doing this reform?" and replied "No". But: "Between the polls and the short-term and the general interest of the country, I choose the general interest of the country."
For his appearance, Macron received harsh criticism from the opposition and the unions. The dispute over the reform has weakened the government and Macron. The government barely survived one of the votes of no confidence. Her crackdown was taken as a sign of weakness.
German leftists travel to Paris
The strikes again canceled trains and flights on Thursday. High schools and universities were partly closed. According to the broadcaster BFMTV, 15 percent of the gas stations in France were missing at least one fuel due to the ongoing blockade of oil depots.
Support for the protest also came from Germany. The left chairmen Martin Schirdewan and Janine Wissler took part in the demonstration in Paris. "Any increase in the retirement age is at the expense of those who work hard," said Schirdewan. "It's the same in France as it is in Germany." Wissler said: "The social cuts do not stop at the border, so resistance is necessary." This applies in Parliament and on the street.