(Paris) In the aftermath of a day of strong mobilization and violence in France, which led to the unprecedented postponement of the visit of King Charles III, the main reformist trade union center again called on the government on Friday to postpone its reform on retirees.
A dramatic turn of events on Friday morning, the Élysée announced that the state visit of King Charles III which was to begin on Sunday has been postponed, at the request of Emmanuel Macron, Downing Street insisted.
The decision was taken “after a telephone exchange between the President of the Republic and the King this morning, in order to be able to welcome His Majesty King Charles III under conditions which correspond to our relationship of friendship”, writes the French presidency.
This decision comes the day after a day of demonstrations and a night of violence in several parts of the country.
Entering its third month, the protest against the extension of the retirement age to 64 brought together Thursday between 1.089 million demonstrators (Ministry of the Interior) and 3.5 million (CGT union) for the 9th day of mobilization.
The secretary general of the CFDT Laurent Berger called, as the day before, the government to “pause” its pension reform, and to open a more global negotiation with the unions.
You have to “give yourself six months to look, and on work and on pensions, how you have to get things right,” he said on RTL.
Faced with the risk of a total blockage carrying serious dangers, he proposed a broad negotiation, a way of allowing the government, until now inflexible, to get out of the impasse in which it seems to find itself.
“Everyone is worried this morning because there has been violence that is unacceptable […], we have to calm things down now, before there is a tragedy,” he said.
“I had an adviser from the Élysée […] it’s time to say ‘listen, we’re taking a break, we say to ourselves we’re waiting 6 months’, we have to give a signal to the world of work. It would calm things down,” he said.
A 10th day of action is scheduled for Tuesday.
The use of 49.3, an article of the French Constitution drawn by the government to force through the Assembly its pension reform, and the intervention on Wednesday by President Emmanuel Macron have stirred up the ardor of opponents, according to critics of the reform. .
“We feel that there is an extremely strong momentum from the population, a public opinion that is largely convinced and so there you go, as long as there is a timetable that allows us to act, we are mobilized”, commented Marylise Léon, number two of the CFDT union.
The unions met again on Tuesday with demonstrators and strikers, and local rallies are planned for this weekend.
The violence, which had so far been only sporadic, also made a dramatic appearance in the game between the government and the unions.
Door of the town hall of Bordeaux (south-west) set on fire, “scenes of chaos” denounced by the mayor of Rennes (west), water cannons in Lille (north) and Toulouse (south-west), protester with a thumb torn from Rouen (north-west), police station targeted in Lorient (west), etc. The violence has escalated almost everywhere. “Unacceptable,” said Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne.
In Paris, violence broke out at the head of the demonstration with their share of smashed windows and destroyed street furniture, and incidents continued in the evening in the wake of so-called “wild” processions. Contrary to a parade where the vast majority of demonstrators marched peacefully.
Trash lights, sirens and flashing lights streaked on a night when clusters of protesters played cat and mouse with law enforcement.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin reported 457 arrests and 441 injuries in the ranks of the police. He denounced the violence of “thugs often from the far left”.
The government remains inflexible on its reform. Emmanuel Macron, who was in Brussels on Thursday for a European summit, had the day before defended tooth and nail a “necessary” reform for public finances, assuming his “unpopularity”.
French Communist Party national secretary Fabien Roussel called for “bringing the country to a standstill”, and radical left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon for “throwing all forces into battle”.
For the leader of the far right Marine Le Pen, an unfortunate finalist in the last presidential election, “Emmanuel Macron can no longer govern alone, he must now come back to the people”.
Ironically, Iran, whose government uses terrible repression, on Friday called on France to avoid violence and to “listen” to the protesters.