Millions of workers in France strike over President Macron's planned pension reforms

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By Mark Armstrong  with AFP
Thousands of workers across France take part in nationwide strike against pension reform
Thousands of workers across France take part in nationwide strike against pension reform   -   Copyright  Michel Spingler/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved

Late Thursday afternoon and tens of thousands of French workers were still on the streets protesting against President Emmanuel Macron's planned pension reforms. 

Between a million and two-and-a-half-million strikers took part depending on who you believe. But what's not disputed is that those who did participate reject the idea of putting up the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64.

Today’s mobilisation reflects the massive opposition, I think nearly 80% of the people are against it, especially among the youngest people.
Philippe Martinez
Head of the CGT Trade Union

"Today’s mobilisation reflects the massive opposition, I think nearly 80% of the people are against it, especially among the youngest people," said Philippe Martinez, Head of the CGT Trade Union. "So today’s mobilisation reflects the opposition of the citizens of this country to this reform," added Martinez.

Murielle Guilbert, co-general delegate of Solidaires said: "We have to put things back on the table and that means a different distribution of wealth. There are ways of financing public services and social protection, except that Macron doesn't want to talk about it, and that's the crux of the problem."

The national strike overshadowed Macron's visit to Barcelona for talks with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

It is a reform that has been presented in a democratic way, that has been validated, and that is a reform that is fair and responsible.
Emmanuel Macron
French President

“It is a reform that has been presented in a democratic way, that has been validated," explained Macron when asked about the matter by a journalist at a joint press conference with Sanchez, "and that is a reform that is fair and responsible.”

President Macron defends his plans, pointing out that they were a pledge in his manifesto on which he was elected in 2017. 

There is some support for them, but Thursday's widespread strike shows there is also considerable opposition from those who think the reforms are unfair.