France in flames as furious Macron strikers block Lyon station with huge blaze

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President Emmanuel Macron has angered workers with unpopular pension reforms which require people to work until 64 in order to qualify for a full pension – two years past the official retirement age. The public outrage has resulted in the biggest strike in decades in France shutting down public transport services. Numerous train lines, especially in Paris, have been seriously disrupted as a result of the strikes.

Recent footage on Twitter has shown protestors sparking a large bonfire in the huge train station as one protestor walked around with a lit flare.

Unions are trying to force the former investment banker to abandon his plans, with nationwide strikes since December 5, making them the longest in the country since the upheaval of 1968.

Mr Macron said in the prime-time televised address to the nation: “The retirement reform that I’ve committed myself to before you will be carried through because it is a project of social justice and progress.”

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He also stressed his belief that a compromise with unions would be found – but Mr Martinez was unmoved, telling broadcaster BFM: “I was under the impression of having heard these words a thousand times.

“I still do not see anything new in the government’s position.

“The alarm signal needs to be louder, we need strikes everywhere.”

Nevertheless, he said his organisation would be among those meeting with government officials on January 7.

He also stressed his belief that a compromise with unions would be found – but Mr Martinez was unmoved, telling broadcaster BFM: “I was under the impression of having heard these words a thousand times.

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“I still do not see anything new in the government’s position.

“The alarm signal needs to be louder, we need strikes everywhere.”

Nevertheless, he said his organisation would be among those meeting with government officials on January 7.

On January 4 French police fired tear ga in low-level clashes in the centre of Paris with demonstrators protesting government plans to overhaul the country’s pension system.

Police briefly used the tear gas in the city’s Bastille area and at the Gare de l’Est railway station after demonstrators, who were joined by “Yellow Vests” anti-government activists, tried to enter the station complex.

Mr Macron has said reforms are essential to simplify the current convoluted pensions system, but his opponents say they will result in many French people having to work for longer.

“People have to think a bit about what kind of society they want in general and, on a more personal level, whether you’re 20, 30, 40 or 50, one day you’ll retire,” said Jean-Gabriel Maheo, an industrial technician who said he was in his fifties.

“If the currently proposed system passes in the way it is laid out, it will be a social catastrophe. Already, the previous reforms are seeing people retire with measly pensions,” added Maheo, as he took part in the Paris demonstration on Saturday.

Much of France has been crippled by a national transport strike since the anti-pensions protest first began in early December. Another big nationwide demonstration is due to take place on January 9.

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France in flames as furious Macron strikers block Lyon station with huge blaze

President Emmanuel Macron has angered workers with unpopular pension reforms which require people to work until 64 in order to qualify for a full pension – two years past the official retirement age. The public outrage has resulted in the biggest strike in decades in France shutting down public transport services.

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