Macron's reforms on brink as mass protests against retirement age increase plague France today

French firefighters on strike holding flares and CGT union flags during the demonstration in France
French firefighters on strike holding flares and CGT union flags during the demonstration in France

President Macron’s reform plans face a campaign of opposition as strikes cripple France

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French President, Emmanuel Macron has faced backlash after a new bill to increase the official age of retirement has caused mass strikes and protests in France today.

The reform programme will raise the retirement age at which people can stop work from 62 to 64 by 2030.

Large demonstrations took place as tens of thousands marched the streets Nantes, Lyon, Bordeaux, Marseille and Toulouse.

Around 10,000 police officers were deployed in case protests turned violent with ultra-left "black bloc" infiltrators.

Protesters protest against French government's pension reform in Saint-Nazaire
Protesters protest against French government's pension reform in Saint-Nazaire

Intercity and commuter trains services are badly disrupted while many schools and public services have closed.

Two driverless lines are running on the Paris metro and at Orly airport in the French capital, one in five flights have been cancelled.

New proposals outlined by Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne, include an increase on the duration of contributions required to receive a full pension from 42 to 43 years.

Government chiefs have hailed the scheme as a vital measure to safeguard France’s share-out pension system.

But according to an IFOP poll, the reform is proving unpopular among members of the public with 68 per cent saying they’re opposed.

The President has been accused of fleeing the fall out over the new plans after it emerged he was in Spain to sign a ‘friendship’ treaty during protests.

Political analysts agreed the mood of the country was hard to gauge, so it was impossible to predict whether the scale of the movement would be enough to force the president to retreat.

President Macron is in Spain while protests continue in France
President Macron is in Spain while protests continue in France

As Macron’s Renaissance party does not have a majority in the Assembly he will be forced to rely on support from the 60 or so MPs of the conservative Republicans party.

Union official Thomas Cavel with the French Democratic Confederation of Labour’s (CFDT) railways branch told Reuters that strikes will “undeniably snowball”.

He said: "The strikes are going to snowball over time, undeniably. Workers who were on the front lines during COVID are going to get hit (by the reform). It's unfair."