Fresh mass protests against pension reform sweep France | News | DW | 29.01.2020
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Fresh mass protests against pension reform sweep France

Thousands across France have turned out for another day of protests against Macron's controversial pension reform plans. It's the eighth day of protests since early December.

Thousands took to the streets across France on Wednesday to protest Emmanuel Macron's controversial proposed pension reform.

Demonstrators convened in Paris, Marseille, Nantes, Rennes, Toulouse and Bordeaux for the eighth major day of protest since trade unions called a series of strikes in early December.

Blockades and strikes were reported at the port in Marseille, broadcaster Franceinfo reported.

In Toulouse, a branch of the Galeries Lafayette department store chain was occupied by demonstrators.

Lawyers and feminist activists protest pension reform plans

Lawyers on strike and feminist activists perform during a demonstration against pension reform plans in Paris as part of another day of nationwide strikes and protests.

In Paris, opponents of the pension reforms gathered at Place d'Italie in the south of the city and marched towards the Invalides area.

Public transport was broadly undisturbed, while the French railway company SNCF warned of possible difficulties using regional transit.

Read more: French prime minister makes concession to pension protest

Police were deployedin the capital to prevent rioting. Security forces had been the subject of criticism in recent weeks after instances of acting brutally towards protesters.

The violent clashes which broke out Tuesday between the police and the fire brigade during the 4,000-strong firefighters' rally caused outrage in France. The Paris police chief criticized the "very aggressive” stance of some of the firefighters who demonstrated for higher wages and pensions.

BRAV-M and anti-criminality (BAC) police brigades arrest people during a demonstration.

BRAV-M and anti-criminality (BAC) police brigades arrest people during a demonstration.

The turnout for Wednesday's demonstrations was considerably less than that of Friday's mass protest. The strike rate within the country's civil service was 0.58% on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Ministry of Public Accounts. The strike rate for the last mass protest on Friday was 4.4%, or roughly 249,000 people across the country.

Read more: France unveils controversial pension reforms

The French government wants to create a universal pension scheme which would replace 42 individual schemes. The new plan would also restrict privileges for individual professional groups.

Despite months of protests, the French government launched the watered-down pension reform bills on Friday after they were adopted in the Council of Ministers and this week began their journey through the National Assembly.

Watch video 04:34

Strikes against Macron in France

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mmc/msh (AFP, dpa)