French unions saw turnout collapse to its lowest in protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s pensions reform bill ahead of a last-ditch bid in the National Assembly to repeal it.
According to the Interior Ministry, the number of people taking part in protests totalled 281,000 on Tuesday, down from the estimated 782,000 nationwide on the May Day holiday and peak of 1.28 million on March 7.
Macron insists the retirement age hike, raising the retirement age from 62 to 64, will protect public finances. He signed it into law in April.
The latest protest -- the 14th nationwide demonstration -- comes ahead of Thursday’s bid by a group of independent, centrist lawmakers known as LIOT to trigger a vote in the National Assembly to repeal the reform.
Parliament speaker Yael Braun-Pivet, who is from President Emmanuel Macron’s party, has said she would reject the LIOT amendment on constitutional grounds.
“I’m applying the rules and nothing but the rules,” Braun-Pivet said on BFM television.
Macron forced the original legislation through the lower house National Assembly using a controversial constitutional power to bypass a vote in March.
The move led to allegations of Macron’s contempt for French democracy and public opinion. However, a Toluna Harris Interactive poll of 1,052 adults for AEF Info and RTL on June 2-5 showed 40% back pension reform, up two points from a month ago, with 82% expecting it to enter force in September.