President Emmanuel Macron is planning to raise the pension age in France by two years to 64. In response there have been two huge mobilisations against these plans, the first on January 19th, the second on January 31st.
The first mobilisation saw 2 million out on the streets. This was exceeded on the second mobilisation. There were 250 demonstrations throughout France.
In Paris 280,000 came out on the streets. There were a lot of creative placards, including ones like “Metro-Boulot-Tombeau”(Undergound-Work- Grave) and “Metro-Boulot-Caveau” (Underground-Work- Burial Chamber) adaptations of the old May 1968 slogan Metro-Boulot- Dodo (Underground- Work- Sleep). There was a large turnout by high school and college students.
In the Loiret region there were demonstrations in five towns, Orléans, Montargis, Beaugency, Gien, and Pithiviers. On January 19th in Montargis there were 3,000 on the streets and this was greatly exceeded on January 31st. At Aubenas there were 9,500 out in a town of 17,000.
At La Roche sur Yon there were between 18,000 and 20,000 demonstrators almost double the turnout on January 19th.
There were about 11,000 demonstrators in Alès (42,000 inhabitants) at least 1,000 more than on the 19th, a very large turnout for a town of 42,000. At Privas to the north, with a population of 10,000 there was a phenomenal turnout of 3,000, a thousand more than on the 19th. In Annonay, a town of 18,000 inhabitants, 8,500 turned out, an increase of 3,500 from January 19th.
In Limoges, 38,000 demonstrators turned out, ten thousand more than on January 19th. In Poitiers, there were 18,000 demonstrators.
Another large demonstration took place at Saint Etienne, with 50,000 on the streets. At Roanne, 12,000 marched
At Le Puy en Velay 12,000 mobilised. At Metz in eastern France, 16,000 demonstrated, an increase of 3,000 from the 19th. There was massive strike action in this region of Lorraine, with nearly all industries falling silent.
At Marseille in the south, an astounding 205,000 came out on the streets. At Nice there were 25,000, at Tarbes 16,000, at Avignon, 20,000. In Toulouse there were 80,000 out, and 30,000 in Montpelier. At Millau, 2000 demonstrated. In Grenoble in the south east, 40,000 marched. In faraway Reunion, one of France’s overseas provinces, 10,000 demonstrated.
Further mobilisations were planned for the 7th and 11th of February, which we will shortly be reporting on.
Many of the demonstrations were orderly, if angry. Anger spilled over in Paris and other towns, where bank windows were smashed, and the police replied with teargas. The French oil industry was paralysed by strikes, and schools, transport and energy were also severely affected. Students occupied the Sciences-Po university in Paris, and several high schools were blockaded there.