New strike turmoil grips France as Macron remains defiant

PARIS-Fresh strikes and protests roiled France on Tuesday with a record number of police deployed, as President Emmanuel Macron remained defiant over a pensions reform that is sparking turmoil in the country.
The day of action is the tenth since protests began in mid-January against the law, which includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.
Last Thursday saw the most violent clashes yet between protesters and security forces, as tensions erupted into pitched battles on the streets of Paris and police reported 457 arrests across France and injuries to 441 officers.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said 13,000 members of the security forces would be deployed on Tuesday -- 5,500 of them in Paris alone. The number, a record, was justified by “a major risk to public order”.
Nearly two weeks after Macron rammed the new pensions law through parliament using a special provision sidestepping a vote in the lower house, unions have vowed no let-up in mass protests to get the government to back down.
A state visit to France by Britain’s King Charles III, which had been due to begin on Sunday, was postponed because of the unrest.
Macron on Monday instead met Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, other cabinet ministers and senior lawmakers for crisis talks at the Elysee Palace. “We need to continue to hold out a hand to the unions,” a participant in the meeting quoted Macron as saying, although the president rejected any revision of the pensions law.
In a conciliatory gesture, Borne has scheduled talks over three weeks with members of parliament.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt