Paris, the city of romance was brought to standby when protests begun early March of 2023 causing major disruptions in transportation, education, healthcare, and other public services.
Workers are striking over the French government’s plan to raise the pension age forcing workers to start retiring at a later age of 64 years old. The strike was said to be organized by labor union and social justice groups.
One protester in Paris captured the mood, showing a banner that read: “France is angry.”
“I’m protesting because this reform is deeply unfair to workers, women, and young people. It’s no longer acceptable that a powerful man could force such a bill without a vote by parliament,” she said.
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The protest has lasted for about three weeks with tens of thousands of protesters in the streets every day to advocate for change. Police were cracking down heavily on protesters, deploying tear gas and arresting at least 120 people and leaving many injured.
“What adds fuel to the fire is the behavior of the government, the police violence in particular. If we want to avoid tensions and I want to avoid them what the trade unions are proposing is a gesture to calm things down, it must be seized.” Lucie Henry, a 36-year-old protester said.
The strike had clearly had a considerable influence on the city’s daily life as the day progressed, with many companies and public services forced to close or decrease their hours. Many of the city’s traditionally attractive avenues, even those just steps from monuments like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, are littered with rubbish mounds. According to a spokeswoman for the Paris mayor’s office, approximately 4,400 tonnes of trash were awaiting collection as of Saturday. The problem, according to the spokeswoman, is a blockage at waste incinerators caused by the strikes. Garbage trucks have consequently been unable to collect waste in much of the city since there is nowhere for it to be deposited.
On Wednesday March 29th , the long strike finally came to an end. It is said that the strike was suspended out of a sense of ‘responsibility’.
“People are getting tired of it. There has been too much violence. Paris is a mess, and I want to get on with normal life,” said Paris resident Amandine Betout.
A statement by the CGT claimed that requisitions of trucks, incinerators and personnel, ordered by the Paris police prefect, had bled the movement, leading to its suspension. But added that “the combat isn’t over.”
“It’s good that the trash is collected. It’s very unsanitary, and some residents already have trouble with rats and mice. It can be dangerous if it’s left too long,” said artist Gil Franco, 73.
While the government has yet to respond officially to the strike, labor unions and social justice organizations have praised the day as a success, with organizers pledging more action if their demands are not satisfied.
Laurent Berger, told TMC TV network. “We will attend. We’ve discussed it among ourselves,” he said, citing conversations with other unions. “We think, collectively, that we need to go to bring our proposals.”