Paris – Police in Paris on Thursday fired tear gas to force protesters away from the headquarters of President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party as a strike against his pension reforms continued.
The head of Macron’s La Republique en Marche party, Stanislas Guerini, condemned what he described on Twitter as an “attempted intrusion by radicalised demonstrators” at the party’s office.
Police were not able to confirm what happened at the party headquarters however said three people had been arrested during an undeclared demonstration nearby.
In a televised New Year’s Eve address, Macron said he expected Prime Minister Edouard Philippe to find a compromise on the pension reforms with “the trade unions and employer groups who desire it.”
However, trade unions were unimpressed with his statement, which offered no specific concessions on plans to replace existing professional pension schemes with a single national scheme and raise the standard age for retirement on a full pension from 62 to 64.
The head of the hardline CGT trade union, Philippe Martinez, told RMC radio on New Year’s Day that he was calling on “all the French people to mobilise, to protest and to go out on strike.”
Earlier in the week, a CGT official told public broadcaster FranceInfo that the union was planning to blockade the country’s fuel refineries from Jan. 7 to 10.
According to French media, train services and Paris public transport have been disrupted by strike action since Dec. 5, now the longest-ever strike in the history of state railway company SNCF.
The planned reforms would phase out the right of public sector transport workers to retire on a full pension at the age of 52 or 57.
The SNCF said that only 6.9 per cent of its staff were still out on strike though 33.9 per cent of train drivers were still striking.
Half the scheduled TGV high speed trains were cancelled, while two out of three services should be available between Friday and Sunday when many people are expected to return from Christmas holidays.
Ministers are set to meet with trade unions and employers’ groups on Jan. 7 to discuss some aspects of the reform plans.