Protests have broken out across France on the 11th day of national strikes with one of President Emmanuel Macron’s favourite restaurants set on fire, tear gas used on demonstrators and traffic at Paris’ main airport disrupted.
Thousands of people gathered in cities to demonstrate against Mr Macron‘s controversial pension reforms that have sparked months of public anger.
Rat catchers in Paris threw dead rodents at city hall “to show the hard reality of their mission”, according to Natacha Pommet, a leader of the CGT trade union.
At Charles de Gaulle airport in the capital, around 100 protesters blocked a road leading to terminal one and entered the terminal building.
Flights were unaffected but passengers were delayed getting through the airport.
Clashes erupted in Paris as protesters targeted one of Mr Macron’s favourite restaurants.
The awning of the La Rotonde brasserie was set on fire with demonstrators throwing stones, bottles and paint at police.
The restaurant is well known among the French public for hosting a celebratory dinner for Mr Macron as he led the first round of the 2017 presidential election.
Meanwhile, at one march in the city of Rennes in Brittany, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who chanted “strike, blockade, Macron walk away!”
In the western city of Nantes, tractors joined the parade of marchers and tear gas was also deployed against demonstrators.
Protests in other cities have been largely peaceful with thousands marching behind union flags and banners in Marseille on the Mediterranean coast, Bordeaux in the south west, Lyon in the south east and other cities.
Union leaders said the public’s fury at President Macron’s pension reforms has morphed into a wider movement of workers angry about salaries and other working conditions.
Mr Macron has given no signal he would back down from the controversial reforms which would change France‘s retirement age from 62 to 64.
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Polls show a wide majority of French people oppose the legislation which Mr Macron’s government pushed through parliament without a vote.
Talks between trade union leaders and Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne quickly broke up after an hour on Wednesday with no breakthrough.
Sophie Binet, the newly-elected general secretary of the CGT union, said the protests are the result of “a deep anger, a cold anger”.
She described Mr Macron’s government as “completely disconnected from the country and completely bunkerised in its ministries”.
“We can’t turn the page until the reform is withdrawn,” she said, promising more protests.
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