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Over two million protest against attack on pension schemes in France

ABOUT two-and-a-half-million protesters took to the streets in France on Saturday against President Emmanuel Macron’s attack on pension schemes.

The left-wing CGT trade union centre said that around half-a-million alone marched through the streets of Paris.

Hundreds of thousands of people also marched in Lille, Nice, Marseille, Toulouse, Nantes and many other cities and towns to mount pressure on the government to back down.

The French government said that 963,000 people marched in total.

The demonstrations opposed to the government’s plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 drew protesters who were not able to attend the previous three days of action, all held on weekdays.

Although there was a strike by air traffic controllers at Orly airport, which saw up to half of all flights cancelled, there were no other stoppages.

Student Elisa Haddad said from the Paris protest: “We often hear that we should be too young to care, but with rising inflation, soaring electricity prices, this reform will impact our families.

“It is my first demonstration because I couldn’t attend due to uni.

“It is important that the voices of [France’s] parents and students are heard.”

One banner held by a young boy as the demonstrators set out from the capital’s Place de la Republique read: “I don’t want my parents to die at work.”

Retired graphic artist Kamel Amriou said: “Even though at my age, I’m not really affected [by the pension reforms], it’s important to be vigilant about our society, that it’s one where people are very close to one another, caring not only for our elderly but also for our children.”

Mr Macron has called the reforms “indispensable” for ensuring the long-term survival of the country’s pension system.

But in a joint statement, French unions threatened to cause a nationwide shutdown from March 7 if the plans are not scrapped.

“If the government continues to remain deaf then the inter-union grouping will call for France to be shut down,” they said.

Fabien Roussel, French Communist Party general secretary and member of the country’s national assembly, told Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne from the march in Lille that she “must respect the legitimacy of the world of work and of those who rise up against your reform.”

Another strike is planned for February 16.

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