Pension reform in France: after 49.3, mobilization continues throughout the country
Demonstration against the pension reform in Nantes, March 18, 2023. AFP - LOIC VENANCE
Text by: RFI Follow
In France, the anger against the pension reform does not subside. This Saturday afternoon, March 18, new rallies took place in Paris. The mobilization was also very well attended in the rest of the country.
In the capital, a rally began in Place d'Italie from 18 p.m. During the day, the shopping center of the Forum des Halles, in the heart of the capital, was briefly occupied by demonstrators.
Across France, rallies were held in large and medium-sized cities. There were symbolic gestures, like Le Mans. Between 1,800 and 5,000 protesters threw rolls of toilet paper at the prefecture. Angry gestures, too. In Besançon, in eastern France, a large fire was lit with one goal: to burn his electoral card.
► READ ALSO: Pension reform: the government draws the 49.3 to adopt the text
The passage of the pension reform in the Assembly by article 49.3 does not pass. In some cities, demonstrators have called for a gathering in front of parliamentary offices of MPs. This is particularly the case in Brest, where the local of the elected Horizons, Jean-Charles Larsonneur, member of the majority, had to be protected by the police.
My door is always open when it comes to debate in good faith. I absolutely condemn the violence of the ultra-left, fuelled by anti-parliamentarianism and the incendiary behaviour of the @FranceInsoumise. Thanks to and 👩 👨 @PoliceNationale.pic.twitter.com/yf5LSJ0O2Y
— Jean-Charles Larsonneur (@JCLarsonneur) March 18, 2023
In Nantes, protesters want radicalization
Macron and the bosses, don't touch our pensions!" could be heard in the Nantes procession. For many opponents met in the city by our special envoy Léo Hélaine, 49.3 was an electroshock and the traditional demonstration is no longer enough. "Today, if we want to be heard, we have no choice, we have to move up a gear," said Kevin, a farmer, who was present at a roadblock before the demonstration. Blocking actions like that, we see that this is what can be much more effective than large union demonstrations, so today, there is the 2nd half that begins. There is like the specter of the Yellow Vests. All of society agrees that today, if we do not radicalize the movement, the government will not move.»
► Read also Pension reform in France: the weekend of doubt for the majority
This sentiment is shared by Adrien and Nelly. Gag on the mouth and mask 49.3 on the head, they also want blockages, but no violence. "Does it make sense to go and break a shop? I am not sure. On the other hand, it may make more sense to go and block in front of centers of power, "says Nelly. "We must start attacking the economy more concretely and therefore block flows, warehouses, fuels," says Adrien. This is what the CGT intends to do.
We are not in favour of the demonstrations degenerating. What we are calling for, however, is radicalism in the workplace and therefore with blockages of the economy in one way or another, "says Fabrice David, general secretary of the CGT in Loire-Atlantique. This includes the strike in the 2nd total energy refinery in the country, not far from here. In Nantes, the demonstration was punctuated by some violence between demonstrators and the police: tear gas on one side, throwing bottles on the other.
Clashes between police and protesters
While the rallies were mostly peaceful, they sometimes degenerated. Face-to-face confrontations between police and demonstrators took place in Caen, Dijon, but also in Bordeaux. The shopping streets were invaded by a few hundred people.
Protesters against pension reform in Marseille, March 18. AP - Daniel Cole
Among the spontaneous demonstrations, in Marseille, in the south of the France, the Saint-Charles station was briefly occupied. Across France, protesters are promising to continue the movement this Sunday.
On the strike side, the shutdown of the country's largest refinery, TotalEnergies' Normandy refinery, began on Friday evening. This operation will take several days and is not expected to cause immediate fuel shortages at the country's petrol stations. PetroIneos' refinery in Lavéra, Bouches-du-Rhône, could be shut down, according to the CGT.
Gatherings, blockades, barricades... The anger is decidedly not falling against the government. In the National Assembly, the motions of censure - tabled by the independent group Liot and by elected representatives of the National Rally (RN) - will be debated and put to the vote on Monday from 16 pm.
• Demonstrations, but also strikes throughout the country. Especially among garbage collectors. For several weeks, waste has been accumulating in the streets of Paris. Incinerators are blocked by strikers, as is the case in Issy-les-Moulineaux, a suburb of Paris. In front of the factory, the workers are picketing, and intend to make the movement last. Arthur Ponchelet reports.
It's a tough job.
Garbage collectors on strike in Issy-les-Moulineaux
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