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Pension reform in France | Rallies in several cities, barricades and charges in Paris



(Paris) After the activation of article 49.3 of the Constitution, and before the debate on the motions of censure against the government, the opponents of the pension reform take advantage of the weekend to express their anger, in gatherings in the regions and in Paris, where the Concorde is now prohibited for demonstrators.

The Place de la Concorde was placed under the very high surveillance of hundreds of police officers, and water cannons were prepositioned there. The police carried out numerous searches of passers-by and asked people to circulate, according to AFP journalists.


Police officers ensure that no one demonstrates on the Place de la Concorde, in Paris.

At 7 p.m., the square emptied of hundreds of people who had been there an hour before and who were walking around without signs or banners, making it impossible to tell whether they were passers-by or potential demonstrators.

The prefecture had announced earlier that any gathering was prohibited at this place, located a few hundred meters from the National Assembly and the Elysée, a rallying point for opponents of the reform on Thursday and Friday evening. On Friday, violent clashes occurred, with 61 arrests in all.

Also in Paris, the CGT Île-de-France organized a rally in Place d’Italie (south of Paris), which turned into a procession and went up to the north of the capital. Among the participants, German (who did not wish to give her first name), technician at Public Health France, said “to be worn out by work”. “I sit in front of the computer all day, my eyes hurt, my head hurts, I’ve already had two phlebitis,” says this 55-year-old woman.

Clashes with the police broke out at the end of the evening, with throwing of projectiles, trash fires and barricades. According to a police source, 81 people were arrested in and around Place d’Italie, where calm returned around 10:30 p.m.


Protesters march to Place d’Italie in Paris.

” We will continue ”

A few hundred demonstrators marched in Marseille. Including Romain Morizot, 33, telecom engineer in aviation, who testifies: “What do we have left apart from continuing to demonstrate? We only have mobilization, which was peaceful until 49.3. But now it’s potentially going to put social tension everywhere. We will continue, we have no choice.


Police arrest demonstrators in Nantes.

The gatherings took place in several places in the regions, from large cities to medium-sized towns: Lille, Amiens, Caen, Saint-Étienne, Roanne, Besançon, Dijon, Grenoble, Gap, Annecy, Lodève, etc.

Some processions counted several thousand people, as in Nantes (6,000 according to the police, 15,000 according to the unions) or Brest (between 5 and 8,000), with some tension. In Bordeaux, an improvised procession brought together 1,900 people according to the prefecture.

Thursday, shortly after Elisabeth Borne’s recourse to Article 49.3 of the Constitution, which allows the adoption of a text without a vote, except for a motion of censure, the inter-union had called for rallies this weekend. And at a 9e day of strikes and demonstrations on March 23.

“The President of the Republic is obviously following the evolution of the situation” on the ground, Emmanuel Macron’s entourage told AFP.

According to Ifop’s monthly barometer published by the Sunday newspaperEmmanuel Macron’s popularity collapsed in March, to 28%, the lowest since the end of the “yellow vests” crisis in 2019. According to this study carried out among 1,928 people between the 9th and the March 16, before the use of 49.3, the Head of State is 70% dissatisfied.


French President Emmanuel Macron

On the strike side, the shutdown of the largest refinery in the country, the Normandy refinery (TotalEnergies), in Seine-Maritime, began Friday evening, told AFP Alexis Antonioli, CGT manager. This operation will take several days and should not cause immediate fuel shortages at gas stations across the country.

Until now, the strikers had contented themselves with blocking fuel shipments, but the refineries continued to produce.

10,000 tonnes of waste

Industry Minister Roland Lescure hinted on Saturday that the government would make requisitions in the event of a shutdown. “We showed in the fall that we knew how to take our responsibilities here again, we will take them”, in reference to the requisitions then taken to unblock oil sites during strikes for wages, he declared on France Info .

Such measures are “being deployed” with Parisian garbage collectors, he added. In the capital, 10,000 tons of garbage still pile up on the sidewalks, according to the town hall. She evokes Saturday “stabilization” of the volume of waste not collected in the capital.


About 10,000 tons of waste litter the sidewalks in Paris.

According to the prefecture, “five dump truck garages have resumed activity” and “two treatment concession companies as well as several agents (have) been required since” Friday.

The motions of censure, tabled by the independent group Liot and by elected members of the National Rally (RN), will be debated and put to the vote in the National Assembly on Monday from 4 p.m., we learned from parliamentary sources.

The motion tabled by the small group Libertés, Indépendants Outre-mer et Territoires (Liot) is “transpartisan” and co-signed by elected officials from Nupes.

The latter is more likely to be voted by right-wing deputies unfavorable to pension reform than that of the RN. But the absolute majority bar to bring down the government seems difficult to achieve.

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