Macron says French government won't 'yield to violence' in pension battle

MAR 24, 2023 LISTEN

French President Emmanuel Macron strongly condemned violence that erupted during protests against his reforms to France's pension system and insisted it would not change his plans.

"I condemn the violence and offer my full support to the security forces who worked in an exemplary manner," Macron told reporters on Friday during a trip to Brussels.

"Faced with violence, which I differentiate from the protests, we will continue to show the utmost firmness," he said, insisting that the government would "yield nothing to violence".

Macron is facing a crisis that has led to some of the biggest strikes and worst street violence in France in years, after his government pushed its unpopular pension reform bill through parliament without a vote. 

Macron has vowed to continue with the "democratic process" and is awaiting the decision of France's highest constitutional authority, the Constitutional Council, on the pension bill.

The president said that he was willing to talk to union leaders about issues such as occupational exhaustion, retraining, working conditions and remuneration in certain sectors. He invited the joint union movement to meet him to "make progress" on these subjects.

Protests are expected to continue next week, with another day of action called on Tuesday.

The unrest prompted Macron to postpone a state visit by Britain's King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla – originally planned for this weekend – until early summer.

"I think we would not be serious and lack common sense to propose to His Majesty the King and the Queen Consort to come do a state visit in the middle of the demonstrations," Macron said on Friday.

(with AFP)
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