Renewed protests in France over Macron plan to raise pension age

Final show of anger before a decision on whether the measure meets constitutional standards

Police use tear gas during a demonstration in Paris over government pensions reforms. Photograph: Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP via Getty Images

Protesters opposing French president Emmanuel Macron’s unpopular plan to raise the retirement age to 64 marched in cities and towns across the country again on Thursday, in a final show of anger before a decision on whether the measure meets constitutional standards.

In Paris, as thousands marched along the designated protest route, some protesters holding lit flares veered off to the Constitutional Council, which is to decide on Friday whether to reject any or all parts of the legislation. Security forces intervened to stop vandals damaging a shop, with 15 people detained, police said. As in past protests, several hundred “radical elements” had mixed inside the march, police said.

Thousands also marched in Toulouse, Marseilles and elsewhere.

“The mobilisation is far from over,” the leader of the leftist CGT union, Sophie Binet, said . “As long as this reform isn’t withdrawn, the mobilisation will continue in one form or another.”

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CGT has been a backbone of the protest and strike movement challenging Mr Macron’s plan to increase France’s retirement age from 62 to 64. Eight unions have organised protests since January in a rare show of unity. Student unions have joined in.

Mr Macron had initially refused a demand to meet unions, but during a state visit on Wednesday to the Netherlands, he proposed “an exchange” to discuss the follow-up to the Constitutional Council decision. There was no formal response to his offer.

Unions hoped for a strong turnout on Thursday to pressure both the government and the members of the Constitutional Council tasked with studying the text of the pension reform plan.

Polls consistently show a majority of French people are opposed to the pension reform. - AP

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