World News

Fresh protests over pensions in France ahead of crucial elections – Times of India

PARIS: France faced another day of protests on Sunday against hotly contested pension reforms imposed by the president Emmanuel MacronGovernment, one day before the decisive vote of no confidence in Parliament.
After weeks of strikes and peaceful marches against raising the official retirement age from 62 to 64, police on Saturday closed the Place de la Concorde to Parliament for demonstrations after two consecutive nights of clashes.
Some individual lawmakers have been targeted, with Eric Ciotti — the chairman of the Conservative Republicans party not to support motions of no confidence — predicting early Sunday that his congressional office was pelted with rocks overnight.
“The killers who did this want to pressure my vote on Monday,” Ciotti wrote on Twitter, posting pictures showing smashed windows and threatening graffiti.
More than 80 people were arrested at a 4,000-strong demonstration in Paris on Saturday where some set rubbish bins on fire, destroyed bus stops and erected makeshift barricades.
Another 15 were detained in Lyon after police said “groups of violent individuals” sparked clashes.
Other demonstrations in cities around France passed peacefully, with hundreds turning out in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille.
“What do we have left but to continue pretending?” He said Romain Morizota 33-year-old telecoms engineer, at the Marseille protest.
Morizot added that after the government used a constitutional provision to override a parliamentary vote on pension reform, “this will now fuel social tensions everywhere”.
“We will continue, we have no choice.”
Away from the streets of big cities, the hard-left CGT union said on Saturday that workers would shut down France’s largest oil refinery in Normandy, warning that two more could follow on Monday.
So far, the strikers have only prevented fuel shipments from leaving the refineries but have not completely halted operations.
Industrial action has also halted garbage collection in much of Paris, with some 10,000 tonnes of waste now taking to the streets as the government forces some garbage men back to work.
Thursday is scheduled for the ninth day of strikes and broader protests.
People close to Macron told AFP that the president is “of course following developments” on the ground.
Besides raising the main retirement age, MacronReforms to the system also increase the number of years people must pay into the system to receive a full pension.
The government says its changes are necessary to avoid crippling deficits in the coming decades linked to France’s aging population.
But opponents say the law places an unfair burden on low-income people, women and people with physical occupations, and polls have consistently shown a majority oppose the changes.
A survey of 2,000 people published in the weekly Journal du Dimanche on Sunday gave Macron an approval rating of 28 percent, the lowest since mass “yellow vest” demonstrations in 2019 against the new fuel tax.
After Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne used Article 49.3 of the Constitution to pass the law without a vote in the lower house of the National Assembly, the last hope for opponents of blocking reform was to topple the government in one of Monday’s no-confidence votes.
Labor Minister Olivier Dussopp told the JDD that it was “not an admission of failure, but it is heartbreaking” that it used the nuclear option to pass reform.
Pension changes were “too significant to risk playing Russian roulette”, he added, after weeks of Republican concessions – long in favor of raising the retirement age – failed to bring enough Conservative MPs on board to secure a majority.
A handful of lawmakers in the divided group of Republicans are expected to vote against the government on Monday’s no-confidence motions, which were put forward by a small group of centrist lawmakers and the far-right National Caucus.
Ciotti said he did not want to “add chaos to chaos”.

Source link

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button