French workers angry with President Emmanuel Macron and his plan to raise the pension age blocked access to a terminal at Paris’ main airport on Thursday as part of a nationwide day of protests, forcing some travellers to get there on foot.
At Roissy-Charles De Gaulle airport and across the country, wildcat actions by small groups of protesters blocked roads and access to schools, while protesters gathered with banners reading “No to the pension reform.”
Near Toulouse, in the southwest, plumes of smoke were seen rising from burning piles of debris blocking traffic on a highway. Unions also blocked the train tracks at Paris’ Gare de Lyon station, BFM TV footage showed.
Opinion polls have long shown that a majority of voters were opposed to delaying retirement age by two years to 64.
Voters were further angered by the government’s decision last week to push the pension changes through parliament without a vote, and by Macron’s defiant comments on Wednesday.
The president broke weeks of silence on the new policy to say he would stand firm and the law would come into force by the end of they year, at one point comparing the protests to the January 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol.
Macron’s comments “increased the anger,” Laurent Berger, the head of France’s biggest union, the moderate CFDT, told BFM TV.
“He’s the one setting the country on fire,” Celine Verzeletti of the hardline CGT union, told France Inter.
Electricity output was also cut on Thursday as unions raised pressure on the government to withdraw the law. Flight services will continue to be reduced at the weekend, France’s civil aviation authority said.
Protests also targeted oil depots and blocked an LNG terminal in the northern city of Dunkirk.
( Source Reuters)