France gears up for second day of strikes after police tear gassed protesters
Hundreds of thousands of strikers paralyzed the transport system on the first day of industrial action which prompted closure of schools across the nation.
According to Press TV quoting the union leaders, more than 1.5 million people turned out across the country, with police using tear gas to disperse them.
Just in Paris alone, tens of thousands of people took to the streets, while more than 6,000 police officers were deployed to the city with a decree issued to forbid the protesters from gathering on the Champs-Élysées or at police stations.
Police in riot gear used tear gas and truncheons to disperse protesters near the Place de la Republique, Reuters reported.
According to the judiciary 57 people were detained on Thursday.
Strikers on Friday are also set to continue a similar pattern across the country, with widespread rail cancellations and disruption to flights expected across the nation.
In Paris, most of the metro system will shut down and hundreds of flights expected to be cancelled.
Union leaders warned that the strike could last at least until Monday if the government did not take the right action.
"The strike is not going to stop tonight," said Philippe Martinez, Secretary General of the CGT union on Thursday.
Paris's bus and metro operator have said their walkout will last until Monday at the very least.
The new round of strikes hit the nation as President Macron has recently survived a major challenge to his rule from the “Yellow Vest” protesters, who have been holding weekly demonstrations for more than a year.
Trade union leaders are now calling on him to abandon his campaign promise to overhaul the retirement system.
The president said he wants to simplify the country’s complex retirement system, which comprises more than 40 different plans, many with different retirement ages and benefits.
The new system will introduce a ‘points system’ for retirement, which will specifically have a significant impact on public sectors, which until now have enjoyed special retirement systems to compensate for difficult working conditions.