On Friday, March 24, 2023, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced that “457” people had been arrested and “441 police and gendarmerie officers were injured” Thursday in France during the ninth day of protests against pension reform.
On the other hand, Darmanan, who was a guest on CNews, confirmed that there were “903 fires of urban furniture and garbage containers” Thursday in Paris during the trade union demonstration.
Paris witnessed a record number of demonstrators, while mobilization rose nationwide compared to the eighth day of action on March 15, when 480,000 people took to the streets across France, according to estimates by the Ministry of the Interior. Unions reported a level similar to that recorded on March 7.
However, participation did not reach a record level.
While a source close to the government hoped that the protest movement would “fade” and that “things will return to normal at the weekend,” the French unions called for a tenth day of strikes and demonstrations next Tuesday.
These unions affirmed, “While the executive authority seeks to turn the page, this continuous and responsible labor and trade union movement proves the determination of the work community and youth to reach the withdrawal of reform.”
And she stressed that the demonstrations, strikes and partial work stoppages constitute a “response” to the “incomprehensible intransigence” of French President Emmanuel Macron, considering that the government “bears responsibility for the explosive situation” with the proliferation of violence.
And Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne considered that the “acts of violence and vandalism” that permeated the demonstrations were “unacceptable.”
“Demonstrating and expressing opposition is a right. However, the violence and vandalism we witnessed today are unacceptable,” she wrote in a tweet, expressing her “thanks to the security forces and ambulance teams.”
Before the start of the Parisian procession, the Secretary-General of the reformist “CFDT” union, Laurent Berger, said that he had noticed an “improvement in mobilization” and called for non-recourse to violence while the protest movement took a more radical turn.
His counterpart in the CGT union, Philippe Martinez, standing next to him, saw that French President Emmanuel Macron “threw a can of petrol on the fire” during an interview he gave on Wednesday, in which he maintained his sometimes sharp stance, reiterating the “necessity” of adopting this reform.
Martinez indicated that the unions sent a letter a few weeks ago to the country’s president to draw his attention to the “explosive situation” in the country.
Clashes also took place Thursday in Nantes and Rennes, in western France, between demonstrators and security forces, who responded to stone-throwing by firing tear gas and using water cannons.
Tensions of varying intensity were also recorded in other cities such as Toulouse and Bordeaux in southwestern France and Lille in the north.