Young people across France took to the streets on Thursday to protest the government’s attempt t to raise the retirement age to 64.
Several hundred students protested in Paris as part of nationwide strikes and demonstrations – with some blocking access to universities and high schools.
The protest briefly turned violent as a group of young people broke away, vandalizing bus stops and setting a car on fire.
The energy branch of France’s prominent union, CGT, cut power to the Stade de France and several construction sites of the infrastructure for the 2024 Paris Olympics on Thursday.
Cédric Liechti, the Secretary General of CGT Energy, said the move was a “symbolic action”.
“For two and a half months now, more than 90% of workers and more than 70% of French people have rejected this reform which will bring the entire French people to their knees. The government refuses to hear, refuses to apply democracy and the majority of the people.”
President Emmanuel Macron wants to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 and make other changes he says are needed to keep the public pension system financially stable as the population ages.
But opponents argue that wealthy taxpayers or companies should pitch in more to finance the system instead.
“I don’t want to work all my life and be exhausted at the end,” said Djana Farhaig, a 15-year-old who protested in Paris. “It is important for us to show that the youth is engaged for its future.”
Demonstrations also took place in Rouen, where some 400 people marched. And in Toulouse, where 400 to 500 people gathered.
Blockades were also organised in several high schools and universities.
In Strasbourg, three university buildings were reportedly blocked. In Lille, for the second consecutive day, the Moulins campus of the university was blocked by 50 to 100 students with banners and drums, according to the faculty.