Yellow vests join pension reform protests


The inevitable happened in France this past Saturday as the “yellow vests” joined a rally organized by the unions, as their march through Paris was met with tear gas by the police.

Unions organizing the march asked yellow vest protesters to join them. The march coincided with the 59th consecutive Saturday of marches by the yellow vest movement that seeks social and economic justice.

Brief scuffles marred the union march as individuals, some wearing masks, burned construction materials along the route. The march went from the Gare du Nord train station to Chatelet in central Paris.

Police used tear gas against protesters close to tourist hotspots like the Centre Pompidou museum of modern art, where some demonstrators had tried to erect barricades and set fire to them and smashed up a bus stop.

Clashes broke out at other points of the demonstration too, although the protest was dying down by the late afternoon.

Jerome Rodrigues, a prominent figure in the yellow vest movement, was hurt in the eye although it was not immediately clear how he had sustained the injury. Rodrigues was blinded in the same eye earlier this year during another demonstration.

President Emmanuel Macron’s fixation and stubbornness about the reform allowed the nationwide unrest to continue, with now the possibility of the movement getting bigger in case the yellow vest protesters decide to keep supporting the unions.

He has touted his reform as conducive to a fairer system that will incentivize workers to stay in the labor force until 64 instead of 62 and balance the pension budget while eliminating many special regimes. The unions have been completely against it.

The country’s transport network remained disrupted across the country and in Paris on the last weekend of the year, and rail and metro workers have so far insisted they will keep the pressure on Macron to abandon his overhaul.

“We’re ready to hold for quite a while,” said Laurent Djebali, a representative of the metro branch of the Unsa union as he joined the march.