President Macron's retirement and pension reform program has unleashed the expected mass demonstrations, strikes, and likely soon to be riots on the streets of France.
The much anticipated reform bill headed through parliament will see the official retirement age rise by two years, from the age of 62 to 64. And just like that, it's popping off... as French authorities brace for more chaos in the coming weeks. Previously, the unions promised the "mother of all battles".
It’s popping off in France after Macron’s government elected to raise the retirement age by 2 years to 64.pic.twitter.com/PSg64oFs2W— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) January 19, 2023
As a result, public transport has seen significant disruptions in service, while many schools are already closed, amid some 200+ well-attended protests all across France on Thursday.
Various forms of public transport were brought to a standstill in Paris, Toulouse, Marseille, Nantes and Nice, due to the strikes, and the Eiffel Tower was closed to visitors as well as the protests spread.
Eight major unions had designated Thursday the "first day of strikes and protests" - with promises of many more to come.
France's education ministry said that over 40% of primary school teachers, as well as one-third of high school teachers are participating in the strikes, forcing many to close their doors for the day, and possibly weeks ahead.
🇫🇷✊ Mass strikes against pension reform have begun in France – Le Figaro.— AZ 🛰🌏🌍🌎 (@AZgeopolitics) January 19, 2023
Mass strikes and protests against the pension reform have begun in almost all cities of France, according to which the retirement age is planned to be increased from 62 to 64 years. pic.twitter.com/GePf11tW48
French rail authority SNCF reported a "severe disruption" across the country, with metro lines in the capital having to implement partial closures. "On some rail lines, as few as one in 10 services were operating, while the Paris metro was running a skeleton service," BBC reported.
A reported over one million people total are believed to have participated in Thursday's protests and strikes, according to the unions, which plan to keep up the intense pressure until Macron's bill is defeated.
WATCH - France face strikes, widespread protests over pension changespic.twitter.com/1pXinUO0Q1— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) January 19, 2023
Likely the demonstrations will get more and more radical and violent, as French protests tend to go...
All the country’s unions – including so-called "reformist" unions that the government had hoped to win to its side – have condemned the measure, as have the left-wing and far-right oppositions in the National Assembly.
"On Thursday the walls of the Élysée palace must tremble," Communist Party leader Fabien Roussel said on Tuesday.
In many places, crowds clashed with police, who deployed riot control measures including tear gas and batons, as they struggled to clear streets against vastly superior numbers.
🇫🇷 French workers walked off their jobs Thursday in an attempt to derail a planned pension reform that would see the retirement age pushed up by two years to 64.— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) January 19, 2023
How is the strike expected to impact France? FRANCE 24's @smougin explains ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/S0YDH7hPRR
Pleased with the huge turnout, the major unions are planning another nationwide strike and demonstration for January 31st.