(Paris) Blocked railways, disrupted traffic, strikes, demonstrations: the mobilization was strong Thursday in France, after the passage in force of the executive on the pension reform and the day after an intervention by President Emmanuel Macron who pissed off his opponents.
“I would like to say thank you to Emmanuel Macron. He is so arrogant and next to his pumps that every time he speaks, you only want to take your flag to go on a demonstration”, exclaimed Fabien Villedieu, SUD union representative. -Rail, before joining the large Parisian procession.
“ Insulting millions of rebel employees and comparing us to those who invaded the Capitol is worse than an insult ”, was indignant Béranger Cernon, of the CGT-Cheminots.
In the capital, the CGT reported 800,000 demonstrators, the highest figure put forward by the union since the start of the movement, while the authorities’ count is not yet known.
The unions are also claiming record participation in Marseille: 280,000 people, against 16,000 according to the prefecture, a large difference in the classic count in the second city of France.
They also count 110,000 walkers in Bordeaux, another record, 35,000 in Rennes and 80,000 in Nantes – against 22,000 and 25,000 respectively according to the authorities in these last two cities, where clashes took place between demonstrators and security forces. order.
The police had indicated that they expected “between 600,000 and 800,000 people” in the country, with the presence of hundreds of radical or potentially violent elements in Paris.
In the middle of the afternoon, violence broke out at the head of the Parisian demonstration, where several hundred radical elements dressed in black broke windows and street furniture, noted an AFP journalist. People, identified as Black Bloc, notably smashed the windows of a convenience store, before attacking a McDonald’s restaurant.
This ninth national day of mobilization since January 19 comes the day after a television interview with Emmanuel Macron, two days after the failure of the opposition to censure the government concerning the adoption without a vote of this flagship reform of its second five-year term.
Despite the strong unpopularity of the text according to the polls, which raises the starting age from 62 to 64, the head of state has shown himself to be inflexible, hammering that the reform should be applied “ before the end of the ‘year ” and assuming its “ unpopularity ”.
He invoked the defense of “ the general interest ” in the face of the financial deterioration of pension funds and the aging of the population, when his opponents consider the reform “ unfair”.
An attitude which, like many protesters, reacted to Laurence Briens, speech therapist in Paris, where thousands of tons of garbage are still piling up on the sidewalks, the garbage collectors having been on strike for 18 days against the reform, even if the requisitions by the authorities are beginning to bear fruit in certain districts.
“ I made my final decision to demonstrate yesterday ” on Wednesday, after seeing Macron’s interview, said this sixty-year-old. “It was as if we didn’t exist, as if we weren’t heard. »
On Thursday, rail transport and the Paris metro were very disrupted, the unions having called for “ a black day ” in the sector, while dozens of high schools and universities were blocked on Thursday morning.
The supply of kerosene to the Paris region and its airports from Normandy (west) “ is becoming critical ” due to strikes in refineries, the Ministry of Energy Transition told AFP, ready to requisition strikers.
The government has already “ issued a requisition order ” with regard to the strikers at the TotalEnergies refinery in Normandy, which was shut down last weekend and where fuel shipments are blocked.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) has asked airlines for Thursday and Friday to cancel 30% of their flights at Paris-Orly and 20% at other airports.
The unions denounced in unison the “ contempt ” and the “ denial ” of the Head of State, who arrived discreetly Thursday afternoon in Brussels for a European Council.
Will Thursday’s mobilization be a final last stand? According to a source close to the government, the executive hopes that the protest will then “wither away” and that everything will be back to normal “this weekend”.
But the inter-union is not giving up: she will meet Thursday evening at the headquarters of the moderate CFDT union in Paris, whose leader on Wednesday accused Emmanuel Macron of “lying” concerning her.