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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
By Associated Press Reporters

Protests continue in France after Macron forces through pension plan

Protesters chant slogans during a protest in Paris, Monday, March 20, 2023. The French government has survived two no-confidence votes in the lower chamber of parliament, proposed by lawmakers who objected to its push to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

Protests have continued in France after parliament adopted a divisive Bill raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 which was pushed through by President Emmanuel Macron.

In Paris, small groups took to the streets on Tuesday to set fire to piles of rubbish which have formed due to a strike by waste collectors which is in its 16th day.

It comes after protests were held in cities around the country on Monday, with some degenerating into violent incidents.

Police said 234 people were arrested overnight in the capital mostly for setting fire to rubbish in the streets.

Paris police prefect Laurent Nunez said violent incidents were caused by groups of up to 300 people quickly moving through the capital.

He added that he had ordered an internal investigation after an officer was filmed punching in the face a man who was walking backwards, making him fall to the ground. The video has been widely shared on French social media.

Mr Macron has planned a series of meetings on Tuesday with the prime minister, parliament leaders and legislators from his centrist alliance.

The president, who made the pension plan a centrepiece of his second term, is to speak on Wednesday on national television, a first since he made the decision last week to use a special constitutional power to force the Bill through parliament.

The move prompted two no-confidence motions against the government in the lower chamber of parliament. Both were rejected on Monday.

The Bill still faces a review by the Constitutional Council before it can be formally signed into law.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne is to refer the issue to the council to accelerate the process, her office said. Some opposition legislators from the far right have also filed a request, and leftists are expected to do the same.

The Constitutional Council can reject articles within the measure if they are not in line with the constitution. Opponents argue the text as a whole should be rejected.

Police in Paris said on Tuesday that they had ordered waste collectors to work to ensure a “minimum service”. Officials said 674 staff are covered by the orders, allowing 206 bin lorries to operate since last week.

Meanwhile, oil shipments in the country were partially disrupted amid strikes at several refineries in western and southern France.

The Energy Transition Ministry said on Tuesday that it would require some employees who are “indispensable to the functioning” of the Fos-sur-Mer oil depot in southern France to return to work.

Tensions erupted on Tuesday between protesters trying to block access to the site, some throwing stones, and police using tear gas to move them away.

The depot supplies fuel for filling stations in the south east of France, which are the most affected by shortages.

French government spokesman Olivier Veran said the government order started being implemented from Monday evening and warned that other orders may follow in coming days.

Unions have called for new nationwide protests on Thursday to demand the government withdraw the retirement Bill.

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