Nationwide protest in France over pensions as talks continue

Demonstrators face off with police in Nantes France on Jan 9 2020

Under specific pension schemes, some people, like railway worker, are allowed to take early retirement.

Some videos on social media appeared to show riot police forcibly removing some protesters from a city bus depot.

Street protests were staged in Paris and other French cities as the government and labour unions pushed on with negotiations aimed at ending railway strikes over the proposed changes that started on December 5.

Some 452,000 people turned out across France for marches that were again marred by clashes with police and vandalism, with 27 people detained in Paris.

"We're calling for new protests to be organized on January 14, 15, 16, the details of which will be specified on Saturday evening depending on the success of Saturday's interprofessional mobilisation", said Eric Beynel, spokesperson for trade union group Solidaires.

Some schools were closed as teachers, nurses, firefighters, post-office staff, and other civil servants joined transport workers calling on Macron to scrap the unpopular reforms. Under the government's current plan, workers would only receive their full pension is if they work to a "pivot age" of 64.

One protester in Toulouse said to French newspaper Le Monde: "We have been coming since November 17, 2018 and in ten years we will still be there". Cross-country services will be more impacted with just two out of every five train running but worldwide services, including Eurostar, should only be "slightly disrupted".

French rail workers, teachers, doctors, lawyers and others joined a fourth day of nationwide protests and strikes Thursday to denounce President Emmanuel Macron's plans to overhaul the pension system.

"Between the government's stance of "We're talking, everything is on the table" and the reality, you have to wonder if it really intends to. take the views of unions into account", said Philippe Martinez of the hardline CGT union.

Unions fear people will have to work longer for lower pensions, and polls suggest at least half of French people still support the strikes.

Talks between the government and labour unions resumed on Tuesday but no compromise has been reached yet.

Mr Macron has asked his government to find a quick compromise with reform-minded unions.

"This proposal only makes sense if the government withdraws its bill on the pivot age", he added.

Three high-speed trains out of five were running.

Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin insisted the measure was "fair" in an interview with the Figaro daily on Thursday.

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