PARIS (AP) — Some protests broke out Saturday against President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise France’s retirement age from 62 to 64, as uncollected trash continued to stink up the streets of Paris and beyond amid a strike by sanitation workers.
Mostly non-violent protests took place in several French cities, including Nantes and Marseille, where protesters outmaneuvered police to occupy the main train station for around 15 minutes. In the eastern city of Besancon, hundreds of protesters lit a brazier and burned voter cards.
In Paris, an eerie calm returned to the French capital after two consecutive nights of riots. Police have banned any more gatherings at Place de la Concorde, where protesters threw an effigy of Macron into a bonfire as crowds cheered on Friday night.
Police have also banned gatherings on the Champs-Elysées avenue, where some protesters set fire earlier in the week after officers accused the protesters of dispersing them.
More protests were called for Saturday night in other parts of the French capital, but they were expected to be smaller than previous ones.
The protesters are trying to pressure lawmakers to overthrow the Macron government and convict the unpopular. increase in retirement age he is trying to impose no vote in the National Assembly.
After Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne invoked a special constitutional power to bypass a vote in the chaotic lower house, lawmakers on the right and left filed no-confidence motions against her cabinet on Friday. The motions are expected to be voted on Monday.
Some Paris residents buying their weekend baguettes blamed the Macron administration for fumes emanating from rubbish piled up near a bakery in the city’s 12th arrondissement.
“The government must change its position and listen to the people because what is happening is extremely serious. And we are seeing a radicalization,” said Isabelle Vergriette, 64, a psychologist. “The government is largely responsible for this.”
The mayor of the district, Emmanuelle Pierre-Marie, has been in her neighborhood since dawn expressing concern about the consequences of uncollected garbage, which has become a visual and olfactory symbol of the actions to defeat the pension reform plan of the president.
“Food waste is our priority because it is what brings pests to the surface,” Pierre-Marie said. “We are extremely sensitive to the situation. As soon as we have a garbage truck available, we prioritize the most affected places, such as food markets.”
More labor strikes are planned for Monday in numerous sectors, from transportation to energy. The Civil Aviation authority asked to cancel 30% of the flights in Orly, the second airport of Paris, and 20% in Marseille.
The CGT union central warned that at least two oil refineries could close as of Monday. Industry Minister Roland Lescure said the government could re-staff (order workers back to their posts) to prevent fuel shortages.
Macron has argued that requiring people in France to work two more years is necessary to invigorate the country’s economy and prevent its pension system from falling into deficit as the population ages.
Laurent Berger, leader of the moderate CFDT union, said the pension reform “must be withdrawn.”
“We condemn violence. …But look at the anger. It is very strong, even among our ranks, ”he said on RMC radio.
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