France experienced another intense day of protests in several cities on Monday. The marches make up the 13th day of demonstrations against the pension reform.
The European country already maintains a tradition of acts on International Workers’ Day but, on this occasion, the French took to the streets to express dissatisfaction with the increase in the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64 years, implemented by the current government of Emmanuel Macron.
To ensure the approval of the change, Macron activated a low-density democratic device from the 1950s that allows passing bills without the approval of parliament.
The acts were called by Intersindical, which asked that the day be “of popular mobilization against social security reform and for social justice”. Conflicts were recorded in several regions, with the use of tear gas bombs by security forces.
According to the newspaper The world, the demonstration in Lyon was taken over by police violence. Information from the Ministry of the Interior reveals that more than 12,000 police officers were summoned across France and, of these, 5,000 were assigned to the capital Paris, which also relied on the use of drones.
Several countries signaled concern this May 1 to the United Nations (UN) for the excessive use of violence against demonstrators in France. They are: Sweden, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Norway, Luxembourg and Malaysia, as well as Russia, Venezuela and Iran.
Even with the outcome of the proposed change in social security, trade union organizations insist that the government should listen to the streets and go back.
Sophie Binet, Secretary of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), maintained that there is still time to win the battle against the reform and called on workers to go to the “mass” protests because “the demonstration on May 1st is also a party popular”.
The CFDT reported, through its Twitter account, that “about fifty foreign trade unionists” expressed solidarity with the French social movement in the fight against the reform.
In a signal to foreign union organizations, the entity stated that “it is a great gift that French unions have given to workers across Europe and a great lesson in fighting spirit”.
Europe registers protests in several countries
Protests demanding more labor rights were also recorded in several European countries. In London, there was a huge demonstration in Trafalgar Square. The British ask for salary readjustments, better working conditions and the preservation of jobs.
In Spain and Portugal, workers also want better wages and demand that governments show more solidarity with refugees.
In Italy, three major trade union centrals (CGIL, CISL and UIL) have launched a unified campaign for valuing work, which should extend throughout the year.
The war in Ukraine has impacted the supply chain of commodities and fuels to European countries, especially grains, gas, and fertilizers – the latter, largely coming from Russia.
Supply problems have led to an increase in inflation, which should be a major factor in keeping protests going throughout the region.
* With information from Telesur and RFI.
Editing: Thalita Pires