Half a million French workers hit the streets of Paris in the second day of protests over the plan by a government to lift the retirement age. The first day of action was on 19 January, when the number involved around the country was at least 2 million. This time there were more. It was the biggest turnout France has seen in decades.
The video below reports on 19 January gives some background to the dispute.
Millions join national strike in France against Macron’s pension reform.
Video from The Real News Network
Transport, schools, hospitals, and other industries were heavily disrupted by strikes on the second day of action. The oil industry is at a standstill, and Many government departments have been affected. High school and university students have joined in. students at the prestigious Sciences-Po university occupyed its main building overnight.
Thousands take to the streets in Paris
Video from FRANCE 24 English
The first marches had started in the morning in other parts of the country, with several prominent opposition politicians taking part.
“Mr Macron is certain to lose,” said Jean-Luc Melenchon, a former presidential candidate and leader of La France Insoumise, as he marched in the southern port city of Marseille.
The Macron government is in trouble. Opinion polls say that a growing majority of the French population is behind the strikes and protests. This is not a good political position to be in. The support of the conservative opposition was there only weeks ago. But now , there are widening divisions in the Marcon camp, with several parliamentarians making a public stand. There are even those within the conservative camp having second thoughts about continuing to give their support.
Strikes and protests are set to continue if Macron does not retreat.
France’s early retirement age is not something that was handed on a platter. It was fought for in epic battles against employers and government and written into the French consciousness. The gains will not be easily surrendered.
Previous government attempts to do this have failed. Macron is not likely to be more successful, and failure will be a political disaster for him.