National protests against Emmanuel Macron’s unpopular pension reform, with which the president plans to raise the retirement age, are once again taking place in France. Participation in rallies across the country was much lower than expected.
France’s interior ministry said around 368,000 people took part in protests across the country, less than half of the 800,000 to million, as much as the police had predicted before the demonstrations. In Paris, 48,000 people took part in the rallies, while the police expected about 100,000 participants.
Unions hoped to show their strength again with today’s massive turnout ahead of a crucial week for the bill to be passed in Parliament.
On Tuesday, the turnout at the anti-reform protests was a record, with 1.28 million people taking part according to the police, and more than three million according to the trade unions.
The French to hostile to reforms
Since January 19, this is the seventh day of protests against the pension reform, with which Macron wants to raise the minimum retirement age from the current 62 to 64.
According to polls, the French are mostly hostile to the reform, as they consider it particularly unfair to women and workers who do hard work. On the other hand, most French people support protests and strikes against her.
Macron insists that the reform is necessary, as the government decided to raise the retirement age due to the deterioration of the financial situation of pension funds and the aging of the population. On Friday, he rejected the union’s request for a meeting. He emphasized that after the consultations held with them by the Prime Minister Elisabeth Bornenow time for parliament.
Waiting for the vote
The reform law is now being considered by the upper house of parliament, the Senate, which also met today.
Since after more than a week he still has to deal with about 680 amendments to the law, he is the Minister of Labour Olivier Dussopt on Friday mentioned the possibility of using a constitutional provision, according to which senators would vote only on the entire text of the law, in which they would retain only 70 government amendments.
Even without discussion or voting, the proponents could present the remaining amendments. With this, the opposition left still has hope that the Senate will not vote on the text to at midnight on Sunday, as the deadline is now set.
Garbage and traffic disruptions in Paris
After Macron refused to meet on Friday, unions expressed disappointment that he was not taking workers into account and threatened more jails. It is still uncertain whether the unions will continue the closures and renewed strikes that have been ongoing since Tuesday and affect transport, energy and other strategic sectors.
Garbage is piling up in some districts in Paris, as according to the data of the city administration, 3,700 tons of waste were not removed on Thursday. Due to the strike of air traffic controllers, the French air transport authority has asked airlines to cancel 20 percent of scheduled flights at several airports for today and Sunday.
National Railway Company SNCF has meanwhile announced that rail traffic will remain this weekend “severely disturbed”.