Sunday , May 28 2023

Pensions overhaul sparked mass protests in France


PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron will give a televised interview, his office said on Tuesday, after his government fended off two no-confidence votes in parliament over a controversial pension’s overhaul that has sparked mass protests.

Macron’s government used a constitutional measure to adopt the reform, which pushes back the retirement age to 64 from 62, without a vote in the lower-house National Assembly, sparking claims of a “denial of democracy” by angry demonstrators.

His office said he would go live to answer questions by journalists from broadcasters TF1 and France 2 at 1:00 pm (1200 GMT) on Wednesday, having largely remained silent on the pension changes in the weeks leading up to the stormy parliament session where it was pushed through last week.

On Monday, the government survived two no-confidence motions lodged by opposition groups, with one failing by just nine votes in the 577-seat National Assembly.

The official adoption of the reform on Tuesday appears unlikely to defuse the biggest domestic crisis since Macron’s re-election last year, with daily protests in cities around the country that have on occasion turned violent.

Police arrested 234 people in Paris alone on Monday night during tense standoffs between protesters and security forces, a police source said, with several groups burning trash bins, bikes and other objects.

Similar scenes were reported in other French cities, including Dijon and Strasbourg where protesters smashed the windows of a department store, reporters said, with police detaining 287 people across the country overall, the source said.

Macron is set to meet with his Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on Tuesday, as well as the president of the Assembly, Yael Braun-Pivet of his centrist Renaissance party, and the right-wing president of the Senate, Gerard Larcher.

He will then meet with Renaissance lawmakers in the evening, his office said, as opponents vowed to keep up the protests.

“Nothing will weaken the determination of the workers,” the hard-line CGT union said.

A new round of strikes and protests has been called on Thursday and are expected to again bring public transport to a standstill in several areas.

There has also been a rolling strike by rubbish collectors in Paris and some other cities, leading to unsightly and unhygienic piles of trash accumulating in the French capital.

The government also said on Tuesday that it would requisition workers at a fuel depot in Fos-sur-Mer near the southern city of Marseille, as petrol stations across the country start to go dry during a strike by refinery workers. (Int’l News Desk)

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