Protesters march across France against Macron and his pension bill

Protesters march across France against Macron and his pension bill
# 28 March 2023 18:00 (UTC +04:00)

French protesters blocked train tracks and highways, and clashed with police in some cities, as they marched across the country against President Emmanuel Macron and his deeply unpopular pension bill, APA reports citing Reuters.

One protester in Paris seemed to capture the mood, brandishing a banner that read: "France is angry".

"The (pension) bill has acted as a catalyst for anger over Macron's policies," 31-year-old Fanny Charier, who works for the Pole Emploi office for job seekers, said at the same rally.

Earlier in the day, the government rejected a new demand by unions to suspend and rethink the pension bill, which will delay retirement age by two years to 64, infuriating labour leaders who said the government must find a way out of the crisis.

The government said it was more than willing to talk to unions, but on other topics, and repeated it would stand firm on the pension front.

"We have proposed a way out ... and it's intolerable that we are being stonewalled again," the head of the CFDT union, Laurent Berger, told reporters at the start of a rally in Paris.

Macron, who promised to deliver pension reform in both of his presidential campaigns, says change is needed to keep the country's finances in balance. Unions and opposition parties say there are other ways to do that.

Millions of people have been demonstrating and joining strike action since mid-January to show their opposition to the bill.

But public frustration has evolved into broader anti-Macron sentiment.

In particular, the protests have intensified since the government used special powers to push the bill through parliament without a vote.

In the last big day of protests on Thursday, "Black Bloc" anarchists smashed shop windows, demolished bus stops and ransacked a McDonald's restaurant in Paris, with similar acts in other cities.

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