'We won't stop until we beat Macron's reforms' - French take to the streets against pension plans

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 31 Jan, 2023 Updated Tue 31 Jan 2023 15:49 CEST
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A demonstrator holds a placard that reads, "Not born to be a slave" during a demonstration in Mulhouse, eastern France. Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

The French once again took to the streets in huge numbers on Tuesday in a second day of mass walk-outs in protest at plans to reform the French pension system.


Tuesday saw significant disruption on public transport and in schools as workers walked out - around 25 percent of France's teachers were on strike, along with 36 percent of rail workers and 40 percent of workers in the State electricity giant Edf. 

Generally strike turnout was lower than the previous day's mass strikes on January 19th, in the case of teachers the number walking out had almost halved. 

But marches and demos in towns and cities across France saw an even bigger turnout than January 19th - with total turnout estimated at 1.27 million by the Interior Ministry and 2.8 million by the CGT union.




Once again, there was a relatively high turnout in the smaller towns, which generally do not see large protests.


READ ALSO Why can France never agree on protest numbers?

The Macron government wants to reform the French pension system, including raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.

High school student Charlie, 15, was among those at the Paris protest. She said: "I'm here because I want to retire one day and I don't want to finish up half dead from work.

"I think we should lower the retirement age to 60 - it is not humane for people to have to wait to retire until they are so old that they have only one of two years to enjoy it." 

READ ALSO Five minutes to understand French pension reform

Osasu Imade, 43, works as a cleaner in the Paris area. She said: "We cannot work to 64.  Our work is extremely difficult and physical on a daily basis - we cannot continue until 64. I will continue to strike and demonstrate until this reform is cancelled."


Teacher Jean-Michel, 69, said: "I am protesting in solidarity. I retire in three months, so the reform does not impact me but I'm doing it in solidarity for the young people.

"I find it completely unjust. I have continued to work past the retirement age of 62 but that is a choice - I do not support making it an obligation."

Fanny, 36, a high school literature teacher had travelled from Seine et Marne to join the Paris protest. She said: "I am on strike and I will continue to protest -  this is the moment that we must all mobilise strongly together. 


"Me, personally, I very much support a grève générale (general strike) because I think we are in a situation that requires that level of action.

"But if not we will continue to protest, maybe on a local level - for example in Seine et Marne we do torch-lit processions. This allows people who cannot strike because of financial insecurity to participate and get involved with us - we must continue to vary the types of action as much as possible."

Isabelle, 56, a scientist who works in the private sector, was with her civil servant husband Paul at the Paris demo. She said: "I think there is a lot of support and a lot of people out on the streets today. All our friends are against the reform, maybe we cannot say we are representative of all of France, but at our dinner table on Sunday everyone was against it."






The Local 2023/01/31 15:49

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