A demonstration of many thousands in Paris, January 19, 2023
Around 1.1 million people joined the street marches against raising the pension age in France from 62 to 64. Such data were provided by the French Ministry of Internal Affairs following the results of the day of the nationwide strike.
According to the estimates of the trade unions that initiated the protests, more than two million people took part in the demonstrations across the country, of which 400,000 were in Paris.
At the march in the capital, 38 people were detained, the Paris police reported. She also recorded several small incidents during which the police used tear gas. In general, the procession under the icy rain in Paris passed peacefully.
On the day of the national strike in France, the work of schools and transport was disrupted, electricity generation was reduced, and shipments at oil refineries were stopped. In addition, several exhibition halls of the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles were closed, and the Eiffel Tower warned of possible disruptions.
During the protests, French President Emmanuel Macron, who is considered the main initiator of the pension reform, was at a summit in Barcelona. He acknowledged the dissatisfaction of the population, but noted that the reform is necessary to "save" French pensions.
The French Ministry of Labor estimates that the reform will save almost 18 billion euros annually, thanks to which the pension system can break even by 2027. The country's authorities insist that the later retirement of citizens is the only way to preserve the solvency of the system. Trade unions, on the other hand, propose introducing additional taxes for the rich or increasing deductions from wages for employers.
Polls show that around 60% of French oppose Macron's reforms, while 46% are ready to join the protests. Inspired by the mass of yesterday's demonstration, the unions announced new strikes and actions on January 31 to force the government to abandon the pension reform.
The French government is expected to formally table a bill to raise the retirement age on Monday, January 23. In February, the document will go to parliament - Macron hopes to win the support of conservatives so that the bill is passed. Most opposition parties, including the left and far-right, oppose it.
The pension reform is called a serious test for Macron's presidency. In 2019, Macron already tried to hold it - also against the background of protracted strikes and numerous protest actions. Then, Macron's plans were hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic.