FRENCH doctors, nurses, lawyers and teachers were among the millions on the march yesterday joining the 36th day of transport workers strike action, bringing the entire country to a grinding halt.
The notorious CRS police fired volleys of tear gas at the protesters sparking fierce clashes on the fourth massive day of rage called by the trade unions of France in an all-out battle against Macron’s attack on pensions.
Protests were staged in Paris, Marseille, Lyon and other French cities.
New negotiations have been arranged for today between the government and the unions over the issue. However, Macron has insisted that he will not budge on changing the ‘pivotal age’, forcing workers to work until they are 64 to get a full pension. Massive demonstrations are also planned for tomorrow.
Lawyers yesterday symbolically threw off their robes and blocked the entrance to the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Nanterre yesterday, while similar action took place in cities across France. By morning rush hour, there were more than 124 miles of traffic jams in the greater Paris area as public transport was shut down, leaving millions of commuters unable to get to work.
More than a third of teachers stopped work across the country and dozens of schools closed in the capital.
At the Paris demonstration, André Villanueva, an Air France ground-staff worker at Charles de Gaulle airport and a member of the CGT union, said: ‘The government isn’t seriously negotiating, it’s just bluff. This is about people’s futures.
‘If you’ve got a lot of money you’ll always be able to get health treatment, go on holiday and retire comfortably. This is about protecting the majority of people who haven’t and who work hard for a basic retirement.’
On Wednesday, firefighters sprayed foam over the town hall in Le Havre, where Prime Minister Philippe served as mayor between 2012 and 2017.
Meanwhile, Paris Opera has lost more than 12 million euros ($13.3 million) in a month-long strike by ballet dancers fighting to cling onto pension rights that date back to the ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV.
The opera, one of the oldest and most prestigious in the world, confirmed that the dispute is now the costliest in its history, with 63 ballet and opera performances cancelled since dancers walked out on December 5.
The striking dancers gave a free performance of parts of ‘Swan Lake’ on the steps of the Opera Garnier in the centre of the French capital on Christmas Eve.