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France prepares for 4th round of pension reform protests

French workers will take to the streets in mass for the fourth time since January, to protest planned pension reform, according to media reports.

Workers from all sectors continue protests on Saturday to express objections to the reform plans revealed by the government in January.

Almost 240 demonstrations are expected to be seen across the country following the rallies on January 19, January 31, and February 7, according to daily Le Figaro.

The last day of protests, four days ago, saw over 750,000 people marching in Paris, the cities of Nice, Marseille, Toulouse, Nantes and elsewhere, according to the Interior Ministry.

This time, though, rail worker strikes did not accompany the demonstrations, allowing trains and the Paris Metro to run Saturday.

However, an unexpected strike by air traffic controllers meant that up to half of flights to and from Paris’ second largest airport, Orly, were canceled Saturday afternoon.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin wrote Friday on Twitter that 10,000 police officers will ensure security during the protests, including 4,500 in Paris.

Saturday’s protests began peacefully, although Paris police said they arrested one person for possession of a firearm and detained several others for vandalism.

READ MORE: “After massive protests against pension reforms in France, what lies ahead?”

Crucial test

The reform plan is the flagship legislation of Macron’s second term. It includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 in 2030 and requiring at least 43 years of work to be eligible for full pensions.

French lawmakers began a rowdy debate earlier this week on the pension bill.

The protests are a crucial test both for Macron and his opponents. The government has insisted it’s determined to push through Macron’s election pledge to reform France’s pension system, one of the most generous in the world.

The president has called the reforms “indispensable” for ensuring the long-term survival of the country’s pension system and noted that workers in neighboring countries retire years later.

Despite opinion polls consistently showing growing opposition to the reform and his own popularity shrinking, Macron insisted that he’s living up to a key campaign pledge he made when he swept to power in 2017 and before his April 2022 reelection.

A further strike is planned for February 16.

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