Paris sees massive protests over pension overhaul; barricades burnt, tear gas fired

Protesters in Paris clashed with police after the French government on Thursday forced through controversial plans to raise the country’s retirement age from 62 to 64, a move that has inflamed the country’s weeks-long protest movement.

India Today World Desk

New Delhi,UPDATED: Mar 18, 2023 08:32 IST

Police clash with protesters at Paris demonstration against pension overhaul

Gendarmerie members stand guard during a demonstration to protest the use by French government of the article 49.3, a special clause in the French Constitution, in Paris, France (Credits: Reuters)

By India Today World Desk: Massive protests broke out across Paris on Friday against the government’s plans to raise the French state pension age. The police were seen using tear gas to deal with the crowd as protesters gathered at Paris’ Place de la Concorde, near the Assemblee Nationale parliament building.

The unrest, which has led to a series of strikes and protests since the beginning of the year, has left President Emmanuel Macron with the gravest challenge to his authority since the so-called ‘Gilets Jaunes’ or ‘Yellow Vest’ protests of December 2018.

“Macron, Resign!” chanted some demonstrators, as they squared up to a line of riot police.


According to the new rules, France’s state pension age will be raised by two years, to 64. The French government says is essential to ensure the system does not go bust.

However, unions and most voters disagree.

A protester holds a cut-out depicting French President Emmanuel Macron near fire during a demonstration in Paris (Credits: Reuters)

The French are deeply attached to keeping the official retirement age at 62, which is among the lowest in OECD countries, Reuters reported.

More than eight out of 10 people are unhappy with the government’s decision to skip a vote in parliament. Nearly 65 per cent of people want strikes and protests to continue, Reuters quoted a Toluna Harris Interactive poll for RTL radio.

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Teachers’ unions called for strikes next week, which could disrupt the emblematic Baccalaureate high-school exams.

While eight days of nationwide protests since mid-January and many more local industrial actions, had been largely peaceful, the unrest on Thursday and Friday was reminiscent of the Yellow Vest protests in late 2018 over high fuel prices, which forced Macron into a partial U-turn on a carbon tax.

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