Retirement rage: French President defends controversial pension reform despite strikes

Protests against the French unpopular retirement age bill reached the summit of Mont Canigou in the Pyrenees. Photo credit: CGT Confédération Générale du Travail (via Facebook)

THE French President, Emmanuel Macron, is facing furious backlash from residents across the country over plans to raise the pension age.

Protesters have taken to the streets in their thousands, with the government’s decision to bypass a parliamentary vote and impose the reforms only fuelling their anger.

The demonstrations have quickly spiralled out of control, with clashes between protesters and police becoming increasingly violent. Bins have been set alight, and petrol stations are running short of fuel due to blockades at oil refineries. The unrest has even prompted calls for King Charles’s upcoming visit to France to be cancelled.

Despite the escalating situation, Macron remains defiant, insisting that the pension reform is necessary to address the country’s changing demographics in a speech given on Wednesday, March 22. However, his refusal to back down has only added fuel to the fire, especially as it was his first public statement on the matter since this round of strikes began more than a week ago.

The tension in France shows no signs of stopping, with a ninth round of strikes and national protests which were set to take place on Thursday, March 23.