Paris airport traffic disrupted as protests continue over pension reforms

Paris Airport Traffic Disrupted As Protests Continue Over Pension Reforms
France Pension Protests, © Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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By Associated Press

Protesters disrupted traffic at Paris’s main airport and gathered again in their thousands in other French cities on Thursday, in another round of demonstrations seeking to get President Emmanuel Macron to scrap pension reforms that have ignited a months-long firestorm of public anger.

In Paris, rat-catchers set the tone by hurling the corpses of rodents at City Hall.


That protest on Wednesday was one of the more shocking illustrations of how Mr Macron’s plans to raise the national retirement age from 62 to 64 have infuriated workers.

Broadcaster BFM-TV showed the rodents’ emaciated corpses being thrown by workers in white protective suits.

France Pension Protests
Railway workers protests at the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris (Aurelien Morissard/AP)


Natacha Pommet, a leader of the public services branch of the CGT trade union, said on Thursday that Paris’s rat-catchers wanted “to show the hard reality of their mission” and that fury with Mr Macron’s pension reforms is morphing into a wider movement of workers expressing grievances over salaries and other issues.

“All this anger brings together all types of anger,” she said.

Ten previous rounds of nationwide strikes and protests since January have failed to get Mr Macron to change course, and there was no sign from his government that Thursday’s 11th round of upheaval would make it back down.

Talks between trade union leaders and prime minister Elisabeth Borne quickly broke up on Wednesday with no breakthrough, setting the stage for protesters to return to the streets.


France Pension Protests
Demonstrators march on the Alexander III bridge in Paris (Michel Euler/AP)

Crowds marched behind union flags and banners in Marseille on the Mediterranean coast, Bordeaux in the south west, Lyon in the south east and other cities.

In Paris, strikers again closed the Eiffel Tower.


In the western city of Nantes, rumbling tractors joined the parade of marchers and thick clouds of police tear gas were deployed against demonstrators.

Public radio France Bleu reported that police tear gas also was fired to disperse demonstrators in the Brittany city of Rennes.

At Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, about 100 demonstrators blocked a road leading to terminal one on Thursday and entered the terminal building, the airport operator said.

It said flights were unaffected, but travellers with their luggage had to weave their way past flag-waving protesters.


France Pension Protests
Protesters march in Bayonne, south-western France (Bob Edme/AP)

A CGT representative at the airport, Loris Foreman, told BFM-TV that the demonstrators wanted “to show the world and Europe that we don’t want to work to 64 years old”.

Striking workers had less of an impact on transport services than during previous days of protests. But the marches around the country showed that opposition to the pension reform remains strong.

It’s “a deep anger, a cold anger”, said Sophie Binet, the newly elected general secretary of the CGT union.

She described Mr Macron’s government as “completely disconnected from the country and completely bunkerised in its ministries”.

“We can’t turn the page until the reform is withdrawn,” she said, promising more protests.

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