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France rocked by nationwide strikes over pension reform — RT Business News

Protests against government plans to raise minimum retirement age from 62 to 64 show no signs of abating

French unions staged new strikes on Thursday to protest against an increase in the retirement age that was passed by parliament without a vote.

According to media reports, transportation networks, oil refineries and schools have all been hit by widespread disruption. Protesters blocked access to an airport terminal, sat on train tracks and clashed with police across the country.

In central Paris, police reportedly used tear gas after protesters threw projectiles and set trash cans on fire. Tear gas was also fired at protesters in several other cities, including Nantes and Bordeaux. In Rennes, police used water cannons.

“There is a lot of anger, an explosive situation” CGT union leader Philippe Martinez was quoted by Reuters.

Meanwhile, Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher said the government would intervene “in a targeted manner to unblock oil storage tanks that are blocked by protesters.”

“If the strike is a fundamental constitutional right, the blockade is not one… The police are mobilized in difficult conditions and have my full support”, she says.

Macron says he is ready to be unpopular

With protests dragging on for two months since the government unveiled the pension proposal in January, Thursday marked the first day of coordinated action. It followed that Macron broke weeks of silence on the new policy to say he would not back down and the law would come into force by the end of the year.

Macron and his government have defended pension reform as necessary to keep the pension system funded, saying otherwise it would end up going bankrupt.

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