PARIS (AP) – A series of protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial pension reform were planned in France over the weekend as garbage continued to stank in the streets of Paris and beyond amid a garbage collectors’ strike.
An eerie calm returned on Saturday after two nights of thousands of protests in the French capital, with a focal point at the elegant Place de la Concorde, where angry protesters threw an effigy of Macron into a bonfire amid cheering crowds. Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse people, and hundreds were arrested.
Protesters are trying to pressure lawmakers to overthrow Macron’s government and derail an unpopular Raising the retirement age he tries to assert himself without a vote in the National Assembly.
Further protests were planned for Saturday in Paris and in the cities of Marseille and Nantes, but they are likely to be smaller than in the days before.
Garbage piled up meters from a bakery in Paris’ 12th arrondissement on Saturday, kicking up fumes favored by the mild weather and sunshine. Some Parisians buying their weekend baguette blamed it on Macron’s government.
“The government should change its position and listen to the people because what is happening is extremely serious. And we’re seeing radicalization,” said Isabelle Vergriette, 64, a psychologist. “The government is largely responsible for this.”
The mayor of the district, Emmanuelle Pierre-Marie, has been out since dawn, expressing concern in her neighborhood about the consequences of the piles of rubbish, which have become the visual and olfactory symbol of the anti-pension campaign.
“Food waste is our priority because it brings pests to the surface,” said Pierre-Marie. “We are very sensitive to the situation. As soon as we have a dump truck available, we will prioritize the hardest hit locations, like grocery stores.”
Strikes are planned for Monday in numerous sectors, from transport to energy. The Civil Aviation Authority required 30% of flights to be canceled at Orly, Paris’ second airport, and 20% at Marseille.
Laurent Berger, leader of the moderate CFDT union, said pension reform “must be withdrawn”.
“We condemn violence. … But look at the anger. It’s very strong, even within our ranks,” he said on RMC radio.
On Friday, a day after Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne invoked a special constitutional power to bypass a vote in the chaotic lower chamber, lawmakers from left and right tabled motions of no confidence for a vote on Monday.
Source : news.yahoo.com