French youth set to rally against gov't pension reform plan
Demonstrations, walkouts continue, students block school buildings in several cities
French youth groups mobilized Thursday for the third day of protests against the government's pension reform plan.
Protests and walkouts resumed this week for the sixth time since January, and thousands of people marched to object to the reform plan which triggered public outrage when it was announced last year.
The General Labor Confederation counted 3.5 million demonstrators in the streets across France on March 7, including 700,000 in Paris, while the Interior Ministry recorded 1.28 million people attending the protests, according to Le Figaro newspaper.
While people protested, the Senate debated the draft bill, and on Wednesday evening voted in favor of the most controversial point – article 7 which raises the retirement age from 62 to 64 in 2030 – by 201 votes to 115.
Reacting to this on Thursday morning, CGT's Secretary General Philippe Martinez told broadcaster France 2 that this move "will not change anything in the determination and the mobilization (of the workers)."
Trade unions on Tuesday also asked to be "received urgently" by President Emmanuel Macron, and the government spokesperson Olivier Veran said that "the government's doors are more than open to the unions."
While the trade unions were awaiting a reply, women rallied on Wednesday across France to mark International Women's Day.
Now it is the youth groups' turn to protest the reform plan.
High school and college students blocked school buildings in several cities including the capital and Bordeaux, Rennes, and Strasbourg, local media reported.
They are set to rally in Paris in the afternoon.
Oil refinery workers are still on strike, and the fuel transfer to stations remains blocked in some refineries – but this has not provoked a nationwide shortage for now, Le Figaro added, citing CGT's chemical branch.
While the traffic got back to normal in the Parisian regional transport, RATP, the national railway company SNCF is still facing disruptions, Le Figaro said.
Since workers extended the walkouts, the French Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGAC) on Wednesday once more urged companies to cancel up to 30% of flights planned for March 9 and 10 because much of the airport staff will be attending the strike action, seriously disrupting air traffic.