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French protests reach climax ahead of ruling on Macron’s pension reform plan

The French pension reforms were about to be decided by a court of law. It was a final chance for the public to have their say.

According to the interior ministry, there were nearly 400,000 protesters in France.

The unions disagree, and put the number at 1.5 million.

Jean-Pierre, a 68 year old man who worked in the cinema, told us that he had enjoyed his retirement at age 62.

Image: Protesters gather at Place de la Bastille in Paris. Pic: AP

The French government’s efforts to raise the retirement age to 64 will not affect him. He is here in Paris, however, to show solidarity with those who are still in their youth and to tell them that this cause is worth fighting for.

Manon, a 33-year old beautician, tells us that there is more to it all.

The way president Emmanuel Macron went about trying to force through reforms is what really irks me.

More on Emmanuel Macron

has used a mechanism known as Article 49.3 in order to bypass the National Assembly.

The Constitutional Council decides if it’s permissible.

Protesters claim that it is not just the prospect of living longer that drives them to the streets. Before that decision is made, the protests have reached a crescendo. They began mid-January and are crippling the nation.

There’s been a pattern in how things have played out over the past 12 weeks.

Picture: AP Image:

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Unions and workers of all stripes are angry and loud as they march through the streets, passing by iconic landmarks.

Then, at the end of the demonstration, the hard-core demonstrators (the so-called “Black Bloc”) appear to take over and fight the riot police.

Image: Picture: AP
Picture: AP Image:

The next few moments are almost like a choreographed performance. The police are pushing forward to repel the protesters who throw rocks and bottles as missiles.

After hours of sporadic fighting, the final stand is taken in front of the new Opera House. This is aptly located at the Place de la Bastille where the French Revolution took place.

Things began to quieten down as the night fell. It may be that Friday’s decision is so important, it will bring calm before the storm.


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