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Workers, unions gear up for new protests over French pension reform plan


Workers and their unions in France are preparing to take to streets on Saturday in a new round of protests against the government's pension reform plan.

France had a busy week with serious walkouts and nationwide protests on March 7, 8, and 9, with thousands objecting to the proposed plan, which triggered outrage soon after it was announced last year.

Labor unions have called for a nationwide strike on Saturday for the seventh time since January, while the Senate is still debating the reform plan. The debate's deadline is Sunday at midnight.

French intelligence is expecting between 800,000 and 1 million protesters on Saturday, according to local broadcaster BFMTV.

Paris alone is expected to host up to 100,000 protesters, the same source added.

Amid protests, the Senate debated the draft bill and on Wednesday evening voted 201 to 115 in favor of the most controversial point – Article 7 which raises the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030.

Trade unions on Tuesday also asked to be "received urgently" by President Emmanuel Macron, but the French leader on Friday openly refused the demand in a letter but said he does not underestimate people's discontent.

The president invited the unions to respect the parliamentary process.

"The government is, as always, tuned in to you to progress in the dialogue," Macron added, according to BFMTV.

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