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France's Macron condemns violence, says will not yield to pension protests

France's Macron condemns violence, says will not yield to pension protests

President Emmanuel Macron on Friday (March 24) said he would press ahead with reforms, dodging a union leader's call to suspend a new pension law amid some of France's worst street violence in years.

There were violent clashes across the country on Thursday (March 23) evening on the fringes of otherwise peaceful protests that have for weeks gathered huge crowds against a rise in the pension age by two years to 64.
 

"We will give no ground to violence," Macron said.

Against this backdrop, Britain's King Charles' state visit to France, due to start on Sunday (March 26), has been postponed.

Earlier in the day, the head of the CFDT labour union Laurent Berger, urged Macron to "make a gesture" to calm things down. The solution, the influential Berger suggested, would be to pause the reform for six months and look for compromises.

But asked about this after an EU summit in Brussels, Macron only repeated comments he made earlier this week about being open to discussing future policy changes with unions.

He added that the pension law, which the government pushed through parliament without a vote, would simply follow its course - which is now a review of its legality by France's constitutional council.

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