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France’s strikes intensify after Macron’s pension bid

PARIS: Protesters blocked a key highway around the French capital on Friday and escalated strikes at refineries to show their anger again after President Emmanuel Macron pushed through a controversial pension reform without a parliamentary vote.

Macron’s move sparked nationwide protests on Thursday evening, in which more than 300 people were arrested across the country, according to the interior minister.

On Friday morning, around 200 demonstrators briefly blocked traffic on the ring road in front of the capital.

Soumaya Gentet, 51, a CGT union member at supermarket chain Monoprix, said she was outraged and would continue protesting until the law was revoked.

“They don’t take into account what people want,” she said.

Her colleague Lamia Kerrouzi agreed. “Macron doesn’t care about people,” she said.

“He doesn’t understand the language of the people. It must be abolished.”

In the energy sector, strikers should halt production at a major refinery by this weekend or Monday at the latest, said CGT union representative Eric Sellini.

At TotalEnergies de Normandie’s northern site, workers had already gone on a rolling strike, but halting production would escalate the industrial action.

Strikers continued to deliver less fuel than normal from several other locations, he added.

The government invoked a disputed constitutional power to enforce pension reform by decree on Thursday afternoon, prompting protests outside Parliament in Paris as well as in several other cities.

The riots that followed saw 310 arrests across France, including 258 in Paris, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told RTL radio.

“The opposition is legitimate, the protests are legitimate, but wreaking havoc is not,” he said.

A few thousand protesters gathered opposite Parliament on Thursday to protest the move.

In the evening there were clashes with the police, who moved in to arrest some on suspicion of wanting to cause damage.

Similar scenes played out across France.

Several shops were looted during the protests in Marseille, while clashes between protesters and security forces also broke out in the western cities of Nantes and Rennes, and in Lyon in the southeast, according to AFP correspondents.

An AFP photographer saw damage including a burned-out public bike, a shattered shop window and a burned car in Paris on Friday morning.

Despite two months of coordinated nationwide strikes and some of the biggest protests in decades, the government pushed through the Pensions Act, which aims to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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