Home / News / World /  Paris police, protesters clash continues over Emmanuel Macron's pension reform. See top updates here

Paris police clashed with demonstrators for a third night on Saturday as thousands of people marched throughout the country amid anger at imposing an unpopular pension overhaul without a parliament vote.

President Emmanuel Macron's government imposed a highly unpopular that raises France's retirement age by two years to 64, which the government says is essential to ensure the system does not go bust. Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne invoked article 49:3 of the constitution - allowing the government to avoid a vote in the Assembly.

Here's all you need to know:

- The French government has said it is necessary to keep the system from slipping into deficit and to bring France in line with its European neighbours, where the legal retirement age is typically higher. But critics say the changes are unfair for people who start working at a young age in physically challenging jobs, and for women who interrupt their careers to raise children.

- This move has caused outrage among the political class as well as angry protests on the streets, presenting the 45-year-old leader with one of his biggest challenges less than a year into his second and final mandate.

- The growing unrest and strikes have left President Emmanuel Macron facing the gravest challenge to his authority since the so-called "Gilets Jaunes" (Yellow Vests) protests four years ago.

- "Macron, Resign!" and "Macron is going to break down, we are going to win," demonstrators chanted on the Place d'Italie in southern Paris. Riot police used tear gas and clashed with some in the crowd as trash bins were set on fire.

- The municipal authorities had banned rallies on Paris's central Place de la Concorde and nearby Champ-Elysees on Saturday night after demonstrations that resulted in 61 arrests the previous night. On Saturday, there were 81 arrests.

- BFM television also showed images of demonstrations underway in cities such as Compiegne in the north, Nantes in the west and Marseille in the south. In Bordeaux, in the southwest, police also used tear gas against protesters who had started a fire.


Police officers run toward protesters during a protest in Paris, Saturday, March 18, 2023. (Image: AP)
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Police officers run toward protesters during a protest in Paris, Saturday, March 18, 2023. (Image: AP)

- A broad alliance of France's main unions has said it would continue to mobilise to try to force a U-turn on the changes. A day of nationwide industrial action is scheduled for Thursday.

- Rubbish has been piling up on the streets of Paris after refuse workers joined in the action. 

Some 37 percent of operational staff at TotalEnergies' refineries and depots - at sites including Feyzin in southeast France and Normandy in the north- were on strike on Saturday, a company spokesperson said. Rolling strikes continued on the railways.

- While eight days of nationwide protests since mid-January, and many local industrial actions, have so far been largely peaceful, the unrest over the last three days is reminiscent of the Yellow Vest protests which erupted in late 2018 over high fuel prices. Those demonstrations forced Macron into a partial U-turn on a carbon tax.

- According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data, Iceland, Israel, and Norway have the oldest retirement ages at 67. The life expectancy in these countries is 81, meaning the average men in these countries spends 14 years in retirement.

- Usually, countries increase the retirement age when life expectancy rises. In some countries, one can retire before the age set by government pensions and some have a flexible retirement age, such as Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the United States. The countries with the shortest retirement age includes Saudi Arabi (47 years), Turkey (52 years), Indonesia (57 years).

(With inputs from agencies)

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