Saturday, May 18, 2024

Bordeaux town hall set on fire in France pension protests

(BBC News) Bordeaux town hall has been set on fire as French protests continued over plans to raise the pension age.

More than one million people took to the streets across France on Thursday, with 119,000 in Paris, according to figures from the interior ministry.

Police fired tear gas at protesters in the capital, and 80 people were arrested across the country.

The demonstrations were sparked by legislation raising the retirement age by two years to 64.

Fire engulfed the front door of the town hall in the southwest city of Bordeaux on Thursday evening after a day of protests and clashes.

It was not clear who was responsible for the blaze, which was quickly put out by firefighters.

In Paris, generally peaceful demonstrations saw occasional police clashes with masked rioters who smashed shop windows, demolished street furniture, and attacked a McDonald’s restaurant, according to Reuters news agency.

One police officer who lost consciousness was dragged to safety by fellow officers.

Police used tear gas and were pelted by objects and fireworks, AP news agency reported, with 33 people arrested in the capital.

The protests disrupted train travel and oil refineries, and saw teachers and workers at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport walk out of work.

The unrest follows the government’s decision to force the legislation to raise the pension age through the lower house of parliament — where it lacks an absolute majority — without a vote.

French President Emmanuel Macron defended the move, saying the reform is a necessity.

France’s prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, has said the changes are essential to prevent a major deficit in the system in the future.

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