Millions take to streets over pension reform on Labour Day

Administrative court of Paris allows police to use drones during May Day protests in French capital

By
Web Desk
Protesters take part in a demonstration on May Day (Labour Day), to mark the international day of the workers, more than a month after the government pushed an unpopular pensions reform act through parliament, in Paris, on May 1, 2023. — AFP
Protesters take part in a demonstration on May Day (Labour Day), to mark the international day of the workers, more than a month after the government pushed an unpopular pensions reform act through parliament, in Paris, on May 1, 2023. — AFP

As resentment rises against French President Emmanuel Macron's plans for pension reforms, thousands of demonstrators have been staging protests all across France on Labour Day, intending to gather nearly 1.5 million people in their rallies, reported several French media outlets.

Unions regarded it as a historic May Day and plan to express that they have not abandoned the struggle of resistance against Macron’s pension reform.

Masked protesters clash with anti-riot police officers during a demonstration on May Day in Nantes, northwestern France, on May 1, 2023. — AFP
Masked protesters clash with anti-riot police officers during a demonstration on May Day in Nantes, northwestern France, on May 1, 2023. — AFP

The protesters are also gathering to tell other people that their rights can always be taken away.

Macron put forth a bill and by bypassing the parliament in mid-march, used a special constitutional power enabling the government to pass legislation without a vote increasing the retirement age from 62 to 64.

The protests in France flared up as protesters in Black Bloc began to throw projectiles at the police after an hour and a half the people initiated their march through the city of Lyon.

A French Riot Policeman standing next to a police water cannon throws a tear gas grenade towards protesters during a demonstration on May Day. — AFP
A French Riot Policeman standing next to a police water cannon throws a tear gas grenade towards protesters during a demonstration on May Day. — AFP

Tear gas grenades were fired in response by the police to the protesters. A similar response was also given to the protesters by the Police in Paris and in the western city of Nantes.

The administrative court of Paris has allowed police to use drones during the Labour Day protests in the French capital.

Laurent Berger, the head of France’s largest and most moderate major union the CFDT, said on Sunday that “I think we’ll see hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, perhaps 1 million or 1.5 million".

A protester brandishes a yellow smoke grenade as he takes part in a demonstration on May Day. — AFP
A protester brandishes a yellow smoke grenade as he takes part in a demonstration on May Day. — AFP

According to the French authorities, they expect 500,000 to 650,000 across the country – including 80,000 to 100,000 in Paris.

Thierry Camusso, CGT Vitrolles union representative in Marseille said: "It serves a purpose."

Camusso also said: "We have to show our leaders that the revolt is not extinguished in the country, and we can say that May Day is symbolic for workers because today is Labour Day and that's why we're here. We are going to show Mr Macron that the country... we are not happy with his reform and it will not do."

Demonstrators take part in a demonstration on Labour Day, to mark the global day of the workers. — AFP
Demonstrators take part in a demonstration on Labour Day, to mark the global day of the workers. — AFP

During the beginning of the Paris Labour Day protest Sophie Binet, CGT union head noted: "The page will not be turned as long as there is no withdrawal of this pension reform."

Binet maintained: "There is no 'loss of steam' in the battle against President Macron's pension law."

Protesters paddle a canoe with a sign which reads Macron, he is a villain during a demonstration on May Day (Labour Day). — AFP
Protesters paddle a canoe with a sign which reads "Macron, he is a villain" during a demonstration on May Day (Labour Day). — AFP

There is also an expected disruption in air traffic with 25% to 35% of flights cancelled in the country’s largest airports.

"Everyone can go to demonstrate on this holiday. I call on the maximum number of citizens ... to come tomorrow even if they are on vacation," said Berger.

Ransacked materials from a construction site lie spread across the street during a demonstration on May Day. — AFP
Ransacked materials from a construction site lie spread across the street during a demonstration on May Day. — AFP

According to polls, the popularity of Macron has nosedived as compared to the last four years.