Thousands march in 'tense' pension reform protests in Paris

28 December 2019, 19:53 | Updated: 28 December 2019, 19:54

Protesters and flaming barricades lined the streets of Paris
Protesters and flaming barricades lined the streets of Paris. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Thousands of protesters have lined the streets of Paris for the 24th day of crippling strikes against the French government's pension reform plans.

President Emmanuel Macron's proposals for revamping the retirement system have been met with fierce opposition as demonstrators and flaming barricades were seen lining Parisian streets.

Unions responsible for organising the march invited yellow vest protestors to join them in what was considered an unusual move.

"Whatever the colour of the vest, we must stick together," the leader of the hard-left CGT union Philippe Martinez said.

The demonstration coincided with the yellow vest movement's 59th consecutive Saturday of marches that have sought to bring social and economic justice.

There were a number of clashes between protesters and police as people marched from the Gare du Nord train station to Chatelet in central Paris.

Some people wore masks and others burned construction materials along the route.

Footage on social media shows riot police being confronted with missiles and as they tried to contain the demonstrations.

This weekend's protest is in response to Mr Macron's plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

He also wants to scrap the complex system of 42 special categories - notably railway, bus and Metro employees - who each have their own rules.

Trains, trams and businesses across the country have been impacted by the strikes that have caused chaos throughout the festive holiday season.

On Saturday, the SNCF train authority said only six of 10 high-speed trains were running, and the Eurostar from Paris to London had just four or five trains making journeys.

Paris' Metro service improved throughout Saturday, with partial services running on several lines that had been completely shut down from the start. Only two lines, both automatic, ran without problems.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will continue talks with unions, who are planning a major day of action on 9 January, after a holiday break.

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