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Monday, May 20, 2024

France. A millionth protest against the pension reform

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Nearly a million people took to the streets of France on Saturday. The protesters want to put pressure on the government to give up pension reform plans, including raising the retirement age from 62 to 64. In Paris alone, 93,000 people took to the streets.

After three nationwide strikes since the beginning of the year, unions hope to match the massive turnout on Saturday, January 19, when more than a million people protested in most French cities.

“If they can’t listen to what’s going on in the streets and they can’t understand what’s going on with people, well, they shouldn’t be surprised if it explodes at some point,” nurse Delphine Maisonneuve told Reuters in Paris.

Protesters in Paris TERESA SUAREZ/PAP/EPA

€17.7 billion in annual premiums

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President Emmanuel Macron argues that reform is essential to ensure the viability of the pension system.

The government argues that the French spend the most years on retired among OECD countries, and opinion polls show that the vast majority of people are reluctant to give it up.

Nearly 100,000 people protested in Paris.EPA/TERESA SUAREZ

According to the estimates of the Ministry of Labour, raising the retirement age by two years and extending the payment period would bring an additional €17.7 billion in annual pension contributions, which would allow the system to break even by 2027.

Unions say there are other ways to do this, such as taxing the richest or forcing employers or wealthy retirees to pay higher pension contributions.

Police during a protest in Paris TERESA SUAREZ/PAP/EPA

The number of protesters increased and there were clashes

The unions were hoping for a massive turnout for the first weekend protests since the movement began, and drawing people from all ages and walks of life to show the government that anger at reform runs deep.

Preliminary estimates by organizers indicate that the number of protesters in Paris has increased by about 20 percent since the last protest on Tuesday, Le Figaro reported. Across the country, according to the AFP agency, 963,000 people demonstrated.

Peaceful protests in Paris were partly disrupted by minor clashes. A car and several trash cans were set on fire, and police forces used tear gas and stun grenades in an attempt to disperse some of the more radical groups, police said Saturday.

Main photo source: TERESA SUAREZ/PAP/EPA

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