Protestors paralyze France in massive pension reform demonstrations
Police have clashed with protesters in the French capital, Paris, amid a new round of rallies and strikes over President Emmanuel Macron's controversial planned pension reform.
A series of violent clashes erupted as protesters marched along a boulevard in Paris against the French government's pension reform bill on Tuesday. Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.
Workers from different sectors have walked out of their jobs and held demonstrations in the capital and other cities across the country. Refineries have stopped fuel deliveries, most trains have come to a halt, and power production has decreased during the industrial action.
The call for strikes and demonstrations had been issued by all major unions. They have vowed to bring the country to a standstill.
Fuel deliveries have been blocked from all French refineries. There are eight refineries in mainland France and CGT union said strikers had blocked the exits to all of them.
Demonstrations were already forming early morning. A national road in the city of Rennes had been blocked by around 100 protesters since 1 am.
Tuesday marked the sixth day of strikes and protests since mid-January, with unions saying it would be the biggest yet. Police expected between 1.1 and 1.4 million people to hit the streets in more than 260 locations nationwide on Tuesday.
On the biggest day of demonstrations, so far, 1.27 million people demonstrated on January 31, according to official figures.
"I call on all the country's employees, citizens, and retirees who are against the pensions reform to come out and protest en masse," the head of the CFDT union Laurent Berger said on Monday. "The president cannot remain deaf," he added. "There is today a huge social movement... and it will need a political response."
One union leader, Emmanuel Lépine, said last week that the aim of blocking fuel deliveries was to "bring the French economy to its knees."