Violence erupts in Paris as thousands take to streets to protest pension reforms
Violence erupted on the streets of Paris on Tuesday as thousands took to the streets across France to protest against pension reforms.
Riot police fought running battles with demonstrators in the capital city on a so-called Black Tuesday of industrial action across the country.
Millions are furious at President Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64.
“Radical agitators have joined the crowds and are attacking police whenever they can,” said a local police spokesman.
“A protest march is being heavily policed, and everything is being done to restore law and order,” he added.
The worst trouble was close to the Port Royal metro station, where hundreds of riot police used tear gas and baton charges.
As projectiles rained down on them, bins were set on fire and bus stops destroyed by so-called Black Bloc anarchists.
Trouble was also reported in other major cities, including Lyon and Marseille.
It was the sixth demonstration in a row against the pension reform which triggered public outrage when it was announced last year.
Strikes led to numerous public services and businesses being shut down on Tuesday, including oil refineries.
Jean-Luc Melenchon, the hard-Left politician who came third in last year’s presidential election, was among those out on the Paris march.
He called for all Left Wing parties to “unite, and stand up to the reforms”.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said 11,000 police were mobilised across the country, including some 5,000 in Paris alone.
Under new government proposals being considered by the Paris parliament, people will have to work two years longer to achieve a full pension.
This has been hailed by President Macron as vital to safeguard France’s hugely expensive system.
He has welcomed “democratic protest” but said any rioting would be met with “the full force of the law”.
All the country’s trade unions have condemned the measure, as have the Left-wing and Far-right opposition parties in the National Assembly.
Mr Macron’s Renaissance party does not have a parliamentary majority, so has to rely on the support of around 60 MPs from the conservative Republicans party to get his pension reforms through.
With the parliamentary process taking months, Mr Macron faces a rolling campaign of opposition.
Most other European countries have taken steps to raise the official retirement age, which in Britain is currently 66.
President Macron made an earlier attempt to reform the system in 2019, but scrapped it because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
This is the seventh attempted pension reform in France since Socialist president François Mitterrand cut the retirement age to 60 in 1982.
Every subsequent attempt to reverse that change has led to mass opposition on the street.
In 2010, conservative Nicolas Sarkozy raised the retirement age to 62, despite weeks of mass protests.