French anger spreads after Macron forces pension age rise

Strikes escalate and MPs call for protection as interior minister warns protesters against wreaking havoc

Angelique Chrisafis in Paris

Refinery strikes have escalated in France as the interior minister spoke of protesters wreaking havoc across the country and some MPs called for police protection, amid anger at the government pushing through a rise in the pension age without a parliamentary vote.

More than 300 people were arrested across France overnight during spontaneous protests against Emmanuel Macron’s decision to bypass parliament and force through his unpopular pensions changes, including raising the eligible age from 62 to 64.

Macron instructed the prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, to invoke article 49.3 of the constitution, which allows the government to adopt a bill without a parliamentary vote, because he said there was too much economic risk to the country if MPs voted against the bill.

As opposition politicians accused the government of a brutal and undemocratic approach, demonstrators gathered in cities such as Paris and Rennes and smaller towns such as Laval and Évreux. About 200 protesters briefly blocked traffic on the Paris ring road early on Friday morning. In Bordeaux, dozens of protesters stood on the tracks at the main train station….