Hundreds of thousands protest against Macron

TEHRAN, Mar. 23 (MNA) – Hundreds of thousands of people were expected to protest across France Thursday after President Emmanuel Macron said he will not back down on raising the pension age.

Macron drew an angry response from unions and opposition parties on Wednesday after he rejected calls to stop pushing through the deeply unpopular pension plan, Press TV reported.

Macron insisted that the new law was necessary and would come into force later this year.

The legislation— which lifts the retirement age by two years to 64 — has drawn huge crowds in demonstrations organized by unions since January.

The ninth nationwide day of action was expected Thursday to draw hundreds of thousands against what labor unions described as Macron's "lies”.

“The best response we can give the president is that there are millions of people on strike and in the streets," said Philippe Martinez, who leads the CGT union.

Strikes were also planned, in a move which would see train traffic seriously disrupted, airports affected and teachers among many professions walking off the job.

This comes as rolling strikes continue at oil depots and among garbage collectors.

Socialist Party head Olivier Faure said Macron “has put more explosives on an already well lit inferno" by dismissing calls to fire his prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, who has been at the forefront of the pension reform.

Observers say the latest wave of protests represents the most serious challenge to Macron’s authority since the Yellow Vests protests of December 2018, which erupted over high fuel prices.

The government’s use of a constitutional clause to push the pension reform through without a vote has played out on the streets, where protesters have clashed with police in cities across the country over the past few days.

Macron remains defiant. On Wednesday, he accused opponents of not coming up with a single “compromise solution” except that it be dropped entirely.

Opponents of the pension reform, however, say the changes will negatively impact women, public sector workers and people on lower pay.

They also say the government is prioritizing businesses and people who are highly paid over average laborers.


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