By Nur Asena Erturk
ANKARA (AA) – France on Tuesday woke up to a new day of mass mobilizations against the government's pension reform.
President Emmanuel Macron is unwilling to budge an inch from his decision to adopt the reform that triggered outrage since it was revealed last year, while trade unions and workers continue to plan massive walkouts and nationwide strikes.
This will be the 10th day of mobilization since January, with severe walkouts and nationwide protests.
The national railway company SNCF said its traffic would be highly disrupted, according to media reports.
The General Labor Confederation's energy branch previously announced in a statement that the workers will be mobilized, as in the past, in the nuclear sites, hydraulic dams, gas stocking units, and distribution sites.
The aerial traffic will also be disrupted on Tuesday and Wednesday, due to the airport staff's walkout. Some 20% of the flights at Paris-Orly, Marseille, Toulouse, and Bordeaux airports have been canceled as requested by the French Directorate General for Civil Aviation.
The walkouts continue in many other sectors, including education and garbage collection.
- Violence during protests
Acts of violence stained the protests over the past weeks, when lawbreaker groups set fire to street furniture, various buildings, dumpsters, and trash, and threw projectiles at police.
Police officers arrested hundreds of suspects.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Monday said authorities foresee grave risks for public order on March 28.
A total of 13,000 police officers will be deployed in the country to intervene in possible troubles, Darmanin added.
Paris protests will be secured by 5,500 police officers, he also said.
Paris police chief Laurent Nunez on Tuesday told broadcaster France Inter that the black blocs are the main problem, with their members being mostly from ultra-left groups.
Nunez added that some of them are foreigners, coming from other European countries.
- Pension reform plan, source of popular furor
The French government used special constitutional powers on March 16 to force the plan through, prompting opposing parties to submit no-confidence motions that were later rejected.
Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne decided to invoke Article 49.3 of the constitution, a mechanism that lets the government adopt a draft bill without parliamentary approval.
The decision was driven by fear that lawmakers would be able to block the reforms as the government does not hold an absolute majority in the legislature.
The government revealed the reform project in January and parliament started examining and debating the draft bill the following month.
Workers and trade unions have since expressed growing outrage by holding demonstrations and walkouts.
The reform project includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030, requiring at least 43 years of work to be eligible for a full pension.