France is preparing for a second day of strike chaos and violent protests
France was preparing for a second day of travel and school closure this morning because the unions warned that there would be no delay in the strike to protest against planned pension reforms.
On the first day of the protests, seen as an important test of President Emmanuel Macron's ambitious vision to reform France, 800,000 demonstrators, including railroad workers, teachers and hospital staff, marched in various cities across the country.
Today a similar pattern follows, with almost all high-speed trains being canceled, most of the Paris metro system being shut down and hundreds of flights being delayed.
Yves Veyrier, head of the Force Ouvriere trade union, warned that the strike could last at least until Monday if the government did not take the right action.
& # 39; The strike is not going to stop tonight & # 39 ;, added Philippe Martinez, Secretary General of the General Confederation of the Trade Union, last night.
French railway workers are seen near tracks at the empty Gare de Lyon station in Paris, as a public sector strike against President Emmanuel Macron's pension reform plans is expected to continue today
National train operator SNCF today switched again 90 percent of high-speed trains and confirmed that only 30 percent of regional trains will run
A railway employee walks along tracks at Gare de Lyon station in Paris, because a strike by French public sector workers against the French government's reform plans is expected to continue today
Empty traces can be seen in Paris this morning after 800,000 people took to the streets in cities in France yesterday to protest against pension reforms
A traveler runs on Friday at the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris, where 90 percent of the high-speed trains were canceled
A protester shouts among the clouds of tear gas while protesters and the French riot police collide during a rally near Place de la Republique in support of the national strike in France on Thursday, one of the largest national strikes in years
A demonstrator wearing a ski mask throws a gas cylinder back to the police near the Place de la Republique. Officers were forced to use tear gas to disperse rioters who set fire to a vehicle and destroyed windows as tensions rose close to the square
National train operator SNCF has now retaken 90 percent of high-speed TGVs and confirmed that only 30 percent of regional trains will run.
On the Paris metro, 10 lines remain closed, four operate at a much reduced capacity and only two – the driverless and 14 – work normally.
Air France has again canceled 30 percent of domestic flights. Serious disruptions will also occur on the Eurostar, with about two dozen trains being demolished on the cross-channel route.
National newspapers were unable to publish their printed editions, and the CGT union said workers had blocked seven of the country's eight oil refineries, fearing fuel shortages if the strike continued.
Bicycle paths were packed when commuters turned to bicycles and electric scooters, while companies that made their rides offered special strike promotions.
The Macron government does not yet have to fully explain its retirement plans, but calls for a single retirement plan that, according to critics, should work longer. The minimum retirement age in France is currently 62, one of the lowest among developed countries.
The police are holding their line while protesters launch fireworks on them while demonstrations become violent during a rally near Place de Republique in support of the national strike in France
Riot police dressed in armor and wielding shields and batons move on protesters in Paris on Thursday evenings while protests continue into the night
A demonstrator is hurling a tear gas bus back to officers in Bordeaux on Thursday, while demonstrators are joining the city center and joining hundreds of thousands across the country
Police officers stand next to a fire during a demonstration to protest against the pension revision in Paris on Thursday
Police face Thursday demonstrators in the French capital while firefighters extinguish a burning building
A preschool teacher who demonstrated in the eastern city of Belfort, Anne Audier-L & # 39; Epingle, said she was striking because & # 39; I don't know what I can offer two-year-old children when I'm 65. & # 39;
When the strikes started on Thursday, the Paris authorities barricaded the presidential palace and deployed around 6,000 police as activists, many in yellow vests gathered for a big march with the aim of forcing Macron to abandon these reform plans.
Officers were forced to use tear gas to disperse rioters who set fire to a vehicle and destroyed windows as tensions rose near Place de la Republique.
A construction trailer was overthrown and set on fire, sending a huge plume of smoke into the air, while hooded youths lit fires, plundered luxury shops and closed fireworks at officers, reports reports.
The disruption came a day after President Emmanuel Macron was caught mocking Donald Trump behind his back in a hot mic incident with Boris Johnson and Justin Trudeau at the NATO summit in London.
President Trump interrupted his trip to London on Wednesday and called Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau & # 39; two faces & # 39; after joking about the time Trump had taken during a press conference.
Macron desperately scribbled from the diplomatic blunder and told reporters: “I'm not going to comment on stolen videos. That video should not have been filmed in that room. & # 39;
& # 39; At least 90 people were arrested in the evening when the protests ended.
Journalist Mustafa Yalgin had crushed his gas mask (right) and was injured in the eye (left) after the French authorities launched a tear gas grenade during a rally in Paris on Thursday
A man with a clown mask waves a smoke bomb while participating in a demonstration to protest against the French pension revision in Marseille on Thursday
Protesters in black saw flares fling at the windows and burning cars in the capital
A French riot police officer kicks a torch to the ground while demonstrations begin in Bordeaux
Port workers march with smoke bombs and hold a banner while participating in a demonstration in southern France
A demonstrator holds up a red smoke grenade during a rally on Thursday near the Place de la Republique in the center of Paris
Protesters are holding smoke bombs in the air as they walk through Marseille during protests that took place throughout Thursday
Public and private workers demonstrate while holding smoke bombs and shouting slogans during a massive strike in Marseille
A man carries a yellow flag in Marseille, southern France, while rally & # 39; s across the country started clashing with the police on Thursday
Crowds wave the flag of the General Confederation of Labor union while marching in Marseille
Police said 65,000 people entered the streets of the French capital, and more than 800,000 nationwide in often tense demonstrations.
In Nantes, the police responded with tear gas and arrested when protesters threw projectiles at officers before the demonstration in Western France had begun.
There were similar scenes in Rennes and Bordeaux, where banks were attacked, and hundreds of rounds of tear gas were used by the police.
Carriers, teachers, postmen, firefighters, doctors and even lawyers were among those who participated in one of the largest protests of its kind since 1995.
Interior Minister Christopher Castaner had warned that street violence was inevitable. & # 39; We know there will be many people at the demonstrations and we know the risks & # 39; s & # 39 ;, he said Wednesday.
& # 39; I have systematically asked that as soon as there is disorder, urban riots, violence, we can respond immediately. & # 39;
The strikes focused specifically on President Macron's pension reforms, with 245 meetings approved for Thursday, including an afternoon march in Paris.
Men attack the boarded up shop of a gold buyer during a demonstration against the pension revision in Nantes
A demonstrator in a red vest sings slogans at an outburst in Paris as tensions rise in France
Riot police are in the middle of tear gas on Thursday during collisions during a demonstration against the French government's pension reform plans in Paris
A broken electric billboard is seen next to a burning scooter while protesters are standing on the street in Paris
Riot police collide with demonstrators on the streets of Paris during a major demonstration on Thursday
People hold placards with & # 39; one percent in front of the woodshed & # 39; and & # 39; When do we share wealth & # 39;
Macron himself remained & # 39; calm and determined & # 39; to push through the strikes in the public sector, a presidential source said.
So-called Yellow Vest protesters mobilized for the mass demonstrations, as did Black Bloc anarchists.
The yellow cardigans, named after their distinctive bright yellow jackets, have stood behind some of the worst riots in recent history in France.
They have caused millions of pounds of damage to Paris monuments such as the Arc de Triomphe, as well as to the shops, banks, restaurants and cafes on the Champs Elysée.
On Thursday, the Louvre warned of strike disruptions and Paris hotels had trouble filling rooms when tourists canceled plans to travel to one of the world's most visited countries in the midst of the strikes.
Tourists who had traveled to the capital found train stations empty, with about nine out of 10 high-speed trains canceled. The French rail operator SNCF added that it had canceled 70 percent of the regional trains for Friday.
A French SNCF railway worker on strike holds a torch while walking for a demonstration at Gare du Nord station
Protesters hold a sign with the text & # 39; Let & # 39; s Revolt & # 39; while thousands march through the streets of Paris
Many people in the Paris region (photo) chose to work at home or take a day off to stay with their children, because 78 percent of teachers stopped in the capital
SNCF said the services & # 39; still very disrupted & # 39; would be on the second day of the transport strike, with the Eurostar service to Great Britain and the Thalys service to Northern Europe & # 39; severely disrupted & # 39; would become.
Signs at Orly airport in Paris left & # 39; canceled & # 39; see announcements as the civil aviation authority announced that 20 percent of flights were on the ground on Thursday.
Air France announced that it had covered 30 percent of domestic flights and 15 percent of international short-haul flights.
In Paris, only a few of the 16 metro lines were in use and the service on the heavily used suburban rail lines crossing the city was seriously disrupted.
The strikes also had an impact outside of France, as nearly 100 Eurostar trains and buses were canceled from the UK until Tuesday. Easyjet, British Airways and Ryanair also chose to cancel many of their flights to and from France.
People take part in a demonstration to protest against the pension revision in Montpellier, southern France
It is unknown how long the strikes will last, but Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said she expects travel problems to be just as bad on Friday
Air France announced that it had covered 30 percent of domestic flights and 15 percent of international short-haul routes (photo: demonstrators in Marseille)
Protesters hold flares up while demonstrating slogans and shouting during a massive attack
A demonstrator stands at a metro shelter while others block the train lines in Marseille
Some travelers showed support for the striking workers, but others complained that they were entangled in someone else's fight.
Activists sabotage & # 39; ecologically catastrophic & # 39; e-scooters in France
Extinction Rebellion on Thursday claimed the sabotage of 3,600 electric scooters in Paris and other French cities, and said the green image of the fashionable gadgets was a & # 39; ecologically catastrophic & # 39; hid reality.
The action came when thousands of commuters in Paris went to the scooters in an attempt to overcome a national strike in France that is expected to paralyze public transport throughout the country for days.
Extinction Rebellion said it had tampered 3,600 scooters, including more than 2,000 in Paris, as well as in Bordeaux and Lyon, by hiding the QR codes that riders use to unlock them with their smartphones.
& # 39; Unlike their reputation as a & # 39; soft & # 39; or & # 39; green & # 39; driving, the electric scooters are ecologically catastrophic, & # 39; said the group in a statement on its French Facebook page.
The damage to the scooters was reversible, the group said.
It claimed that the use of the scooter still entailed emissions of about 25 percent of the cases of greenhouses that would be emitted if the journey was made by car, and 40 times that of a journey by public transport.
It also argued that studies have shown that instead of replacing car journeys, people opt for e-scooters instead of walking.
& # 39; I arrived at the airport this morning and had no idea that the strike took place, and I waited two hours at the airport for the train that arrived and did not arrive & quot ;, said Ian Crossen from New York. & # 39; I feel a little frustrated. And I spent a lot of money. I apparently spent money that I didn't have to do. & # 39;
Vladimir Madeira, a Chilean tourist, said the strike & # 39; a nightmare & # 39; used to be. He had heard nothing about the protest until he arrived in Paris, and transport disruptions had thwarted his plans to travel directly to Zurich on Thursday.
Under the closed Eiffel Tower, tourists from Thailand, Canada and Spain reflected these feelings.
Many people in the Paris region chose to work from home or take a day off to stay with their children because 78 percent of teachers stopped in the capital.
Bracing for possible violence and damage along the Paris march route on Thursday, the police ordered all companies, cafés and restaurants in the area to close.
Authorities have also banned protests on Avenue Champs-Elysees, around the presidential palace, parliament and Notre-Dame cathedral.
It is not known how long the strikes will last, but Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said yesterday that she expected travel problems to be just as bad today.
Trade unions said it is an open-ended movement and they hope to maintain the momentum for at least a week in the hope of forcing the government to make concessions.
Public sector employees are concerned that the Macron reform will force them to work longer and reduce their pensions. Some employees in the private sector welcome the reform, but others support the strike.
The General Confederation of Labor – the largest trade union in France – said that Macron's pension reforms had caused massive anger.
A spokesperson said: & # 39; We have one of the best pension systems in the world, if not the best. However, the President of the Republic decided, because of the pure ideology, to destroy it. & # 39;
For Macron, pension reform is central to his plan to transform France so that it can compete globally in the 21st century. The government states that France's 42 pension systems must be streamlined.
Public sector employees are concerned that the Macron reform will force them to work longer and reduce their pensions (Photo: a demonstration in Perpignan, southern France)
For Macron, pension reform is central to his plan to transform France so that it can compete globally in the 21st century
Protesters are marching during a massive movement in the old port of Marseille, southern France
Although Macron respects the right to strike, he is convinced that reform is needed, he is determined, that is the project he presented to the French in 2017 during his election campaign, a presidential official said.
After extensive meetings with employees, the High Commissioner for Pensions is expected to detail reform proposals next week, and the Prime Minister will release the government's plan the following days.
The independent Macron came to power in 2017 and promised to reduce France's public services and make the private sector more competitive.
But Macron now often becomes the & # 39; President of the Rich & # 39; mentioned, which is mainly on the side of large companies.
A CBT spokesperson said: & # 39; Everything about social issues, or about health, is now seen as an expense that needs to be reduced. & # 39;
A woman rides a bicycle along the Eiffel Tower in Paris while the monument is closed to an audience due to a nationwide attack
In Paris, only a few of the 16 metro lines were in use and the service on the heavily used suburban rail lines crossing the city was seriously disrupted
An empty platform, the morning of a massive strike at the Gare Lille Flandres in Lille, northern France on Thursday
He said that Mr. Macron showed insufficient interest in protecting & # 39; citizens against illness and misery & # 39 ;.
Macron wants to introduce a universal pension system to replace 42 different schemes that are currently in force. But the disruption can paralyze the French economy if no solution is found.
A series of general strikes in the public sector in France at the end of 1995 caused transport to stop when thousands took to the streets against austerity measures, including pension reform.
The strikes led to the then conservative President Jacques Chirac and his Prime Minister Alain Juppé withdrawing their reform plans.
WHAT caused the strike in France?
French public sector workers started a nationwide strike on Thursday because of Emmanuel Macron's plans to reform France's generous pension system, facing the president since the protest of the & # 39; yellow vest & # 39; broke out last year.
Railroad workers, teachers and first aid drugs were part of the industrial action, which threatens to paralyze France for days. Some employees in the private sector also went on strike because of the pension reforms.
This is what is at stake:
WHAT DOES THE MACRON PENSION REFORM?
Macron wants to set up a point-based pension system in which every day earns worked points for an employee's future pension benefits.
That would mean a major break with the existing set-up with 42 different sector-specific pension schemes, each with different levels of contributions and benefits. Railway workers, sailors and ballet dancers from the Opera Opera in Paris can retire up to ten years earlier than the average worker.
Currently, pension benefits are based on the 25 most earning years of an employee in the private sector and the last six months in the public sector.
The president says that a point-based system would be fairer and simpler. It would also put pension funds on a healthier footing as the population ages.
With 14 percent of economic production, French spending on government pensions is among the highest in the world. An independent pension committee predicted that by 2025 the system would have a deficit of more than 17 billion euros (£ 14.4 billion), 0.7 percent of GDP.
WHAT ABOUT THE PENSION AGE?
Polls show that the French are deeply committed to maintaining the official retirement age at 62, which is among the lowest in the OECD countries. Public employees who perform heavy or dangerous tasks, such as sailors, can leave years earlier.
Macron says that the French should work longer, but is reluctant to simply raise the retirement age.
One idea is to keep the 62-year limit, but to withdraw the benefits for those who leave the workforce for 64 and give an extra boost to those who leave afterwards.
However, the President indicated that he would rather concentrate on the career of an employee than on the age at which they stop working.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM OF THE UNIONS WITH THE REFORM?
Public sector trade unions are worried that their employees will get worse because under the current system the state is making up for the chronic shortage between contributions and disbursements in the sector.
Trade unions are also worried about losing control of contributions and benefits under a centrally managed point-based system.
They want to show that they are still relevant after Macron has implemented a relaxation of labor laws and reform of the state-led SNCF rail operator, despite their opposition earlier in his presidency.
IS THERE A SPACE FOR COMPROMIS?
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has indicated that he can make concessions when the reform comes into effect.
He said he is in favor of a compromise between & # 39; an immediate and brutal transition & # 39; which would make the reforms applicable to people born after 1963, and a & # 39; grandfather & # 39; clause that would only affect people entering the labor market from 2025 onwards.
But Philippe says the government will not fall back on creating a point-based system, one of Macron & # 39; s most important election promises.
France's largest union, the reform-oriented, moderate CFDT, is open to the idea of a point-based system.
The CGT and Force Ouvrière unions, which are the strongest in the public sector, unlike the CFDT, reject the reform outright and seek a long, hard fight
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