TEHRAN (Press Shia) – French workers are going to take to the streets anew Tuesday on the 13th day of a transport strike that has exasperated commuters, hit business turnover, and threatened the holiday plans of thousands a week before Christmas.
France is bracing for chaotic protests over President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial pension overhaul. Most unions have outright rejected the government’s plans to merge the country’s 42 separate pension schemes into a single, points-based system giving workers equal rights, the Express reported.
Paris Police Chief Didier Lallement has banned anti-government protesters from the Champs-Elysées avenue in the capital to prevent an outbreak of violence, as unions gear up for mass protests on Tuesday against the pension reform plan.
Lallement has also banned protesters from gathering near the presidential palace, the prime minister’s official residence, the national assembly, Paris police headquarters and Notre-Dame cathedral. He announced the ban on Friday after similar protests earlier this month were marred by chaos and looting.
Shops, bars and restaurants located along the protest route in Paris will have to stay closed, Lallement added, citing a tense social backdrop to the ongoing transport strikes and protests.
Business owners have been urged to clear terraces, counter-terraces and displays and remove all furniture, equipment and commercial fittings that could be used by rioters as projectiles or weapons.
French retailers, restaurants and hoteliers have for their part warned that their crunch Christmas season could be derailed if the unrest drags on for much longer.
Tuesday’s rallies – the third day of mass protest action in under two weeks – are expected to attract tens of thousands of people from a range of professions, including transport workers, teachers, police, lawyers and hospital staff.
At least 800,000 people protested against the pension reform on December 5; though only 339,000 took part in the second day of mass demonstrations last Tuesday.
Unions are hoping for a repeat of 1995 when they forced the government to drop its pension reform after three weeks of metro and rail strikes and street protests just before Christmas.
Macron’s government, however, is determined to see the pension reform through to the end.