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Pension protests continue across France as President Macron refuses to back down

Strikes and protests have continued across France as anger over pension reform grows
Strikes and protests have continued across France as anger over pension reform grows Copyright AP photo
Copyright AP photo
By Mark Armstrong with AFP
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Workers across France have vowed to continue protesting as President Emmanuel Macron shows no sign of backing down over controversial pension reforms

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French President Emmanuel Macron's government may have survived two motions of no confidence on Monday but the protesters on the streets are refusing to be silenced over their opposition to his pension reforms. 

Police arrested 234 people in Paris alone on Monday night during tense standoffs between protesters and security forces, a police source said, with several groups burning trash bins, bikes and other objects.

Similar scenes were reported in other French cities, including Dijon and Strasbourg where protesters smashed the windows of a department store, AFP correspondents said, with police detaining 287 people across the country overall, the source said.

Hundreds of workers have blocked the accesses to the gas depots in this town near Marseille to pressure the Executive to back down on a reform that delays the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64.

Macron was due to meet with his Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on Tuesday, as well as the president of the Assembly, Yael Braun-Pivet of his centrist Renaissance party, and the right-wing president of the Senate, Gerard Larcher.

Widespread opposition to reforms

Some politicians and many workers' groups are angry over the president using special powers to push the pension reform legislation through without a vote. 

President Macron said on Tuesday that he does not intend to dissolve the National Assembly (the lower house of lawmakers), nor will he reshuffle the Government, nor will he submit to referendum a reform he considers necessary for the survival of the system.

 According to polls, almost 7 out of 10 French people oppose the reform.

Another national day of action has been called for Thursday. 

Government insiders and observers have raised fears that France is again heading for another bout of violent anti-government protests, only a few years after the "Yellow Vest" movement shook the country from 2018-2019.

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