Strikes in France Shut Down Eiffel Tower
Several thousand protesters across France marched in opposition to President Emmanuel Macron's changes to workers' retirement plans.
The marches have effectively shut down not only some iconic Paris landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum, but also the coutry's high-speed rail service (TGV) and authorities grounding roughly 20 percent of flights. Police also ordered businesses, cafes, and restaurants in the area around the Gare de l'Est train station to close.
Although the majority of the Paris march has been peaceful, according to the AP, small groups of masked protesters clashed with police after destroying store windows, setting fires, or hurling flares. Police responded by using tear gas.
Cities across France were paralyzed by protests over proposed pension reforms, as some 6,000 police officers have been mobilized to meet the demonstrations. https://t.co/Hs6Ec6OdJa pic.twitter.com/JbV0eZaLsE— ABC News (@ABC) December 5, 2019
Embassies have alerted tourists in the city, recommending that they stay away from any protest areas.
The activists are marching against Macron's intent to alter how and when French workers can retire, reformatting the country's pension system. Presently, there are a total of 42 different pension systems in France, some of which include industry-specific allowances, such as early retirement. Macron's administration would replace the different tiers so that instead all retirees would get a state pension once they qualify for retirement at the age of 62. Some see this as working more years for less money.
Protesters also cited to other issues as causes for dissent, including climate change, conditions of hospitals, and student suicides.
What the protesters have not discussed is when the marches might end. In another AP story, two railway workers said they were ready to participate in an "unimited strike." Currently, train workers qualify for early retirement.