Thousands march in France for May Day

Thousands march in France for May Day

Thousands of people gathered in May Day protests across France on Sunday to demand social justice and salary increases, and to pressure President Emmanuel Macron to drop his plan to raise retirement age.

Most rallies were peaceful but in Paris police intervened after black-clad Black Bloc anarchists tried to erect a barricade in a street near La Republique Square, police said. A McDonald's restaurant and a real estate agency on the Place Leon Blum were also ransacked, their windows broken and garbage bins set on fire.

Around 250 rallies were organized in Paris and other cities, including Lille, Nantes, Toulouse and Marseille.

Trade unionists were joined by political figures - mostly from the left and climate activists in the French capital.

Marchers carried banners reading Retirement Before Arthritis Retirement at 60, Freeze Prices and Macron, Get Out The harder we can weigh on the government's policies, said Philippe Martinez, head of the hardline CGT union, before the rallies.

He said that the government has to deal with the problem of purchasing power by raising wages.

The leader of far-leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon, who came third in the first round of the presidential election, was at the Paris march.

He wants to unite a union of the left, including the Greens, to dominate parliament and force Macron into an awkward cohabitation, but so far this has not materialised.

Before the march started, Melenchon said we will not make a single concession on pensions.

He said he still hoped an agreement could be reached by this evening to build a new popular union of the left.

Marine Le Pen did not lay a wreath in Paris at the statue of Joan or Arc, which her party uses as a nationalist symbol. She was replaced by Rassemblement National Interim President Jordan Bardella, who said Le Pen was preparing for the legislative elections.

Le Pen urged voters to elect as many deputies from her party in June so that they could protect their purchasing power and prevent Macron from carrying a harmful project for France and the French people France will hold parliamentary elections on June 12 and 19.