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French protesters take to the streets to rally against Macron’s pension plan

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French demonstrators took to the streets on Saturday, the seventh day of protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform plan, with police expecting as many as 1 million people to attend rallies across the country.

The unions hope they can still force Macron to back down as the draft law is debated in parliament, with a final vote in the National Assembly and Senate as early as this month.

“This is the final stage,” said Marylise Leon, vice president of the CFDT union. “Now is the end,” she told France Info broadcaster Saturday.

In a last-ditch effort to change his mind, Macron twice this week rejected urgent calls from unions to meet him.

“When there are millions of people in the street and when there’s a strike, all we get from the other side is silence and people wonder: what else do we need to do to be heard?” -Left CGT Alliance.

“The leaders of this country need to stop denying this social movement,” Laurent Berger, head of the CFDT, said on Saturday.


Laurent Berger, president of the French CFDT union. © France 24 screenshot

Police said they expected between 800,000 and 1 million people to take part in 230 demonstrations planned across France, with as many as 100,000 likely to march in Paris.

It was the second day of protests over the weekend, and the union hoped more people would show up if demonstrators didn’t have to take a day off.


“The Future of Children”

“I’m here to fight for my colleagues and our young people,” said Claude Jeanvoine, 63, a retired protester who held a demonstration in Strasbourg, eastern France. train driver.

“People should not let the government get away with it, it’s the future of their children and grandchildren at stake,” he told AFP.

On Tuesday, the last day of mass strikes and protests, fewer than 1.3 million people turned out to vote, according to police, while more than 3 million people turned out, according to unions.

Unions have called for an indefinite strike, with multiple sectors of the French economy being targeted, including rail and air transport, power stations, gas terminals and waste collection.

In Paris on Saturday, early indications were that, apart from some suburban train lines, city traffic was barely affected by the outage.

The main demonstration in the capital started around 2pm (1300GMT).

Meanwhile, the French Senate resumed debate on reforms earlier Saturday, with the main measure raising the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64.

Senators have until Sunday night to wrap up their discussions before a committee will draft the final version of the draft law, which will go to both houses of parliament for a final vote.

If Macron’s government fails to secure a majority before the vote, Prime Minister Elizabeth Born can deploy a rarely used constitutional tool, Article 49/3, to push legislation through without a vote.

A poll published by broadcaster BFMTV on Saturday found that 63 percent of French people approve of protests against the reforms, while 54 percent also approve of strikes and blockades in certain sectors.

Some 78 percent, however, said they believed Macron would eventually pass the reforms.

(AFP)

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