In Paris, the unions have won their bet.

Right out of one of the few metro stations that remained open despite a massive strike, a dense crowd was heading, Thursday, January 19, towards a place in the black Republic of the world.

Railway workers, prison guards, VTC drivers, customs officers, academics, nurses… At the call of the eight main French unions, the demonstrators were very numerous – 400,000 according to the CGT, 80,000 according to the prefecture – to march peacefully through Paris to express their opposition to raising the retirement age to 64. 

"The situation is serious"

Stuck in the crowd, Maxime waved one of the red flags of the Force Ouvrière union.

This 24-year-old prison guard works at Fleury-Mérogis, one of the largest prisons in the Paris region, and he came to demonstrate during one of his days off.

“Penitentiary supervisor is a tiring job, he explains. In Fleury, we can be confronted with young and violent prisoners. They sometimes have to be controlled, and it is not possible to do it effectively after 60 years. Me, I have just arrived in the profession, and the rhythm is already difficult to accept. We have time constraints, it is physically and psychologically tiring... I find that this reform is unreasonable. We are going to reach a point a break."

Fabien Beiersdorff secretary of the CGT Disney: “we don't want reform, it's already difficult at Disney, we are open 7 days a week, every day of the year, night and day.

We have never seen a princess working at 64!

“#ReformeDesRetraites #Manif @France24_fr

— Lou Romeo (@RomoLou1) January 19, 2023

For Élodie either, saturation is not far away.

A 46-year-old nurse at the Necker hospital, she came in her white coat to alert: “the hospital is going from bad to worse and the government is laughing at us, she insists. caregivers, to finally extend our working years! It must be said: if there are not enough beds in the hospital, it is because there are not enough nurses! who remain no longer have time to transmit, the situation is serious."

"This reform is unfair, it will affect the poorest and women"

Brandishing a large poster "Precarious future, amphis deter", Marie, 27, doctoral student in sociology of work at the University of Créteil, is there by "solidarity with the workers".

"I am young, and my career started late, so retirement will not concern me for a long time, she explains. But this reform is unfair, the government presents it as allowing the most precarious to be protected, but the research shows that it will actually hurt the poorest and women, it will also worsen wealth inequality, many will have to leave with incomplete pensions, and it is not suitable for the way we work today. produce more and more, it doesn't make sense to make us work longer!" 

“This reform is unfair and targets the poorest and women.

It will increase inequalities and is not adapted to our ways of working, we are more and more productive, it makes no sense to work longer”

Marie, doctoral student in sociology of work #f24 /IrjP3EW8O6

— Lou Romeo (@RomoLou1) January 19, 2023

Crossed a little further in the crowd, Frédéric Boccara, 58, shares the same observation.

Economist member of the appalled economists, and statistician at INSEE, he came with his fellow strikers to demonstrate.

“We are well placed to know that this reform is not justified, we work at Insee, he smiles. The big problem for financing pensions is unemployment and employment, it is We also see that life expectancy is falling, so if we extend working hours, we run the risk of damaging the pension system even more. On the contrary, we should improve it and return to a starting age of 60. Can you imagine the number of young people we could hire, if we went back to a starting age of 60? These young people, they would contribute!”

>> To read also: Pensions: is the reform "indispensable", as the government claims?

"Where will we be in ten years?" 

Well wrapped up in her stroller, the daughter of Lydia and Farid sleeps peacefully amid the slogans and songs spit out by the sound system of the union trucks.

The couple in their thirties came to share their anger.

“We demonstrate for her, she is four years old, but also for us, and for our parents who are still working, explains Farid, VTC driver. I started working at 16, I am 37 today, when am I going to be able to stop? There, it's 64 years old, where we will be in ten years? We had demonstrated with the Yellow Vests, and that did not work. We hope that this time, that go ahead!" 

Lydia, his companion, nods.

"I am a private executive, and everything is increasing. When I started working, I thought that at thirty, I could buy an apartment, have fun, go on vacation. And in fact, no, not At all! Where are we going? What are we going to leave our children?" 

A quiet protest 

This is also what Jasmine, 28, wonders.

With her sign "no retreats without planet" she is one of the many to link, in the event, retreats and ecology.

“Instead of bothering us with a reform of the pension system, the deficit of which is not urgent, she develops, I think that we should be concerned about the climate emergency. I don't care, but I have hope, and I would like to have a retirement and a livable planet to be able to enjoy it!"

“They say that young people don't care, but I hope to have a retirement on a livable planet.

Rather than bothering us with a reform that is not urgent, it makes us urgent measures for the climate!

Jasmine, 28

— Lou Romeo (@RomoLou1) January 19, 2023

But despite the anger, calm is essential in the demonstration.

With the exception of a few incidents, the procession proceeds quietly.

"It's been a long time since I've seen a demonstration that was going so well" reports Pauline, draped in a yellow vest.

"I'm surprised, it's true, and there are also very few police officers. I'm very angry, and above all scared, to see how we are not listened to. But it warms my heart to to see so many people, it feels good to all of us together and to demonstrate."

“I put on a yellow vest and I came today because I liked this movement, and I knew there would be many of us today.

I'm not disappointed, it's heartwarming to be together here, we all need to get together” Pauline # f24 # Manif19Janvier

— Lou Romeo (@RomoLou1) January 19, 2023

A second day of mobilization has been announced for January 31. 

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