- Title: Thousands march in Paris against pension reform plan
- Date: 17th December 2019
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (DECEMBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) FIREFIGHTERS ON STRIKE MARCHING AND HOLDING FLARES PENSION REFORM PROTESTERS MARCHING, HOLDING FLARES HEALTH WORKERS MARCHING WITH MOCK COFFIN PROTESTERS GATHERED IN STREET PROTESTERS MARCHING, ONE WAVING A FRENCH FLAG RIOT POLICE MARCHING BACK AS PROTESTERS ADVANCE PROTESTERS MARCHING GIANT PUPPET IN WHITE DRESS AT PROTEST PROTESTERS MARCHING, ONE HOLDING FLARE YELLOW VEST PROTESTER MARCHING WITH SIGN READING (English/French) "MAKE OUR PENSIONS GREAT AGAIN" PROTESTER MARCHING WITH SIGN READING (French) "YOUR PENSION BY POINTS MACRON...FAKE NEWS" (SOUNDBITE) (French) TRAIN CONDUCTOR AND UNIONIST, MAX MEYNIER, SAYING: "(French President Emmanuel) Macron has lost the battle for public opinion, he has lost. He thinks people are stupid, but they are less stupid than he thinks. Everybody has understood, the massive majority of people has understood that they have a lot to lose - they themselves, their children and the future generation. So, he has already lost the battle for public opinion." PAINTING OF MACRON AS LOUIS XIV, THE FRENCH KING GUILLOTINED IN THE FRENCH REVOLUTION, AT PROTEST PROTESTERS GATHERED PROTESTERS WEARING YELLOW VESTS GATHERED PUBLIC SERVICE PROTESTERS GATHERED PROTESTERS GATHERED PROTESTERS FROM ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST GROUP EXTINCTION REBELLION HOLDING SIGNS, ONE READING (French): "NO TO THE MASS EXTINCTION OF SOCIAL RIGHTS" (SOUNDBITE) (French) UNIONIST WHO WORKS IN PUBLISHING, VERONIQUE RAGOT, SAYING: "Our main demand is social justice. For many years, especially since this government took power, we've been seeing our social rights melt under the sun. And this (pension reform) is the last straw." PROTESTERS MARCHING (SOUNDBITE) (French) 52-YEAR-OLD PARISIAN PHOTOGRAPHER AND UNIONIST, JEROME, SAYING: "If we accept a (Christmas) break, then we're stopping the strike. If we don't strike, then he (Macron) is passing his reform, since he said he's passing it in January. So, we have to stop him. We have to be logical. People didn't strike for about 15 days just to stop and say, 'No, let's go see Santa Claus.'" PROTESTERS WEARING SANTA HATS AT PROTEST VARIOUS OF POLICE NEAR MONUMENT IN BASTILLE SQUARE PROTESTERS GATHERED IN SQUARE
- Embargoed: 31st December 2019 15:41
- Keywords: Christmas break France strike Paris commuters march pension reform protest transport strike unions
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Lawmaking,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA001BAD7RK7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Thousands of unionists marched in Paris' streets on Tuesday (December 17) in a redoubled effort to force President Emmanuel Macron to ditch a planned pension reform by Christmas.
Unions from various sectors, including railways, health care, education and public service, called for the mobilisation in order to regain momentum after rolling strikes and protests had started to tail off in recent days.
Former investment banker Macron aims to streamline the generous state pension system and prod people to work until the age of 64, instead of the average retirement age now of 62.
In anticipation of the planned protest march, some cafes and businesses pulled down their shutters on the Boulevard du Temple in central Paris, but far from all. During previous marches by unions, rioters clad in black and wearing ski-masks had vandalised bus shelters and thrown paving stones at police.
The unions and Macron are each hoping to push the other to back down before Christmas, with the prospect that strikes over the holiday would alienate an increasingly frustrated public.
But unionists have ruled out the option of a Christmas break.
"People didn't strike for about 15 days just to stop and say, 'No, let's go see Santa Claus,'" said Parisian unionist Jerome, who refused to give his last name.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said during a parliament session on Tuesday afternoon that the government will stand its ground to put in place a universal pension system.
"My determination, that of the government and that of the entire majority is total," Philippe said.
(Production: Antoine Boddaert, Martin Esposito, Emilie Delwarde, Kathryn Carlson, Ardee Napolitano)
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