Hundreds of people against the law raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 rallied on Thursday in a tiny town in southern France ahead of President Emmanuel Macron’s anticipated visit, while other sporadic protest actions were also held throughout France.
The French president was supposed to promote his educational ideas while speaking with teachers and students at a middle school.
When he arrived, there was a power outage at the location, which the hard-left Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT, translated as the General Confederation of Labour) union in the area said was a protest action. To keep the protesters from approaching the school, dozens of police officers were stationed across the town. When some attempted to rush the barriers, they temporarily employed tear gas to scatter the crowd. People could be heard singing the refrain of the protests against the retirement:
“We are here, we are here, even if Macron doesn’t want (us to be here), we are here.”
A months-long protest firestorm has erupted in France in response to raising the retirement age. After Macron’s administration used special government powers to ram the law through parliament in March, opponents have grown even more enraged. Macron travelled to eastern France on Wednesday, where he interacted with the public for the first time since passing the bill last week. Many others used the opportunity to express their rage.
The CGT union has requested sporadic protests across the nation. Hundreds of people gathered in Paris at the Gare de Lyon railway station for a nonviolent protest.
In Lille, a city in the north, a few protesters marched beside the tracks, stopping all train activity for about an hour. They then quietly left the area. On Thursday, a strike by a number of unions at the SNCF national railroad caused a little disruption in train service.
The SNCF reported that high-speed trains were operating much as usual while several regional lines and Parisian subway trains were disrupted.