Paris: Tens of thousands of people are taking part in the fifth nationwide protest in Paris against the controversial pension reform of the French government, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported.
The protest began at 13:00 GMT at the Place de la Bastille in central Paris. The demonstrators started marching toward the Place d’Italie, carrying banners of leading French trade unions and holding posters with slogans “Macron, hands off our pensions!” and “No to pension at the age of 64!”.
As many as 200 demonstrations are expected to take place across France on Thursday, including in major cities, such as Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, and Nantes.
Later in the day, BFMTV reported, citing the French Interior Ministry, that 440,000 people had taken part in the protests, with 37,000 taking to the streets of Paris.
At the same time, the General Confederation of Labour, a French trade union, counted up to 1.3 million people participating in the protests across the country and around 300,000 demonstrators in Paris alone.
Earlier in the week, air traffic controllers at Paris Orly Airport announced a strike against the controversial reform, prompting the administration to ask air carriers to cancel 30% of flights on Thursday due to the protests.
In January, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne unveiled a draft of the controversial pension reform that the government plans to adopt in 2023. Under the initiative, the French authorities intend to gradually raise the retirement age in the country by three months a year from September 1, 2023. By 2030, the retirement age will reach 64 years.
It is already the fifth nationwide strike in France since Borne’s announcement as people protest the reform. The first general strike against the pension reform took place on January 19 and gathered over a million people nationwide, with 80,000 in Paris. A total of 2.8 million people took part in the second demonstration on January 31.
However, only around 757,000 people showed up at the third nationwide protest last week, with 57,000 in Paris alone. During the fourth strike on Saturday, the French Interior Ministry estimated nationwide attendance at 963,000, whereas France’s largest union, the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), put the figure at 2.5 million, BFMTV reported.