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Strikes deepen at French refineries amid violent protests against Macron's pension reforms

French people attend a protest against the government in Nantes, France, March 18, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

Strikes at refineries persist in France as demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform intensify, amid growing anger against his government.

Fuel deliveries were halted for at least 24 hours since some 37 percent of operational staff at TotalEnergies' refineries and depots went on strike on Saturday, amid protests across Paris, which turned violent by police attacks. 

Rolling strikes also continued on the railways amid growing anger against Macron’s latest move to impose an unpopular pension overhaul without a parliament vote.

On Thursday, Macron invoked a controversial executive power to force through the bill, whose key measure is to increase the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64 years.

The move caused outrage among the political class as well as angry protesters in the streets across the nation.

The growing unrest combined with rubbish piling up on the streets of Paris after striking workers joined in the action.

Angry protests led to clashes between some demonstrators and security forces in Paris over the two previous nights.

Police on Saturday banned crowds at the capital's Place de la Concorde across the Seine river from parliament, "due to serious risks of disturbances to public order." Protests, however, got underway in other parts of the capital.

In one particular case, a group of students and activists gathered together while waving banners and calling for a general strike.

They were shouting "Paris stand up, rise up," videos on social media showed.

Demonstrations were also underway in cities such as Compiegne in the north, Nantes in the west, and Marseille in the south.

Observers say the ongoing unrest is the gravest challenge to Marosn’s authority since the Yellow Vests protests of December 2018.

The unrest over the last three days was reminiscent of the Yellow Vest protests, which erupted over high fuel prices.

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