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France reels as pensions protests continue

ANGRY protests continued in France today against the forcing through of deeply unpopular pension reforms by President Emmanuel Macron last week.

The protests saw trains halted, rows of trucks blocking access to Marseille’s commercial port and debris still littering the Paris streets following the previous day’s massive mass demonstrations.

Authorities say that more than 450 protesters were arrested in Paris and beyond on Thursday as some 300 demonstrations drew more than a million people nationwide to protest against unpopular pension reforms.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said today that some 441 police and gendarmes were injured as violence marred some marches.

He said that 1,000 rubbish bins were set on fire in the French capital during the previous day’s action. Amid a weeks-long refuse collectors’ strike, bins have become a symbol of the protest.

Polls say that most French people oppose Mr Macron’s Bill to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64, which he says is necessary to keep the system afloat.

The supply of fuel to Paris by the large Gonfreville-L’Orcher refinery in Normandy resumed on Friday after police intervened, according to Energy Transition Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher. 

France’s Civil Aviation Authority has requested that a third of flights be cancelled Sunday at Paris’s second airport, Orly, and a further 20 per cent on Monday.

Anticipated union protests have forced Mr Macron to postpone a visit from Britain’s King Charles III. 

The wooden door of Bordeaux City Hall, which the king was due to visit on Tuesday, was destroyed by fire on Thursday night during one unauthorised demonstration.

Bordeaux mayor Pierre Hurmic said today that he had “difficulty understanding the interest of such acts of vandalism.” 

French Communist Party general secretary Fabien Roussel, who has played a leading role in the opposition to the proposed pension changes, said: “We are going through an exceptional social, economic and democratic crisis.

“This movement is historic.”

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