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Broadcaster BFMTV showed the rodents’ emaciated corpses being tossed by workers in white protective suits.
Natacha Pommet, a leader of the public services branch of the CGT trade union, said on Thursday that Paris’ rat catchers wanted “to show the hard reality of their mission” and that opposition to Macron’s pension reforms is morphing into a wider movement of worker grievances over salaries and other complaints.
“All this anger brings together all types of anger,” she said in a phone interview.
Ten previous rounds of nationwide strikes and protests since January have failed to get Macron to change course, and there was no sign from his government that Thursday’s 11th round of upheaval would make it back down.
Talks between trade union leaders and Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne quickly broke up on Wednesday with no breakthrough, setting the stage for protesters’ return to the streets.
Largely peaceful crowds marched behind unions’ coloured flags and banners in Marseille on the Mediterranean coast, Bordeaux in the southwest, Lyon in the southeast and other cities. In Paris, strikers again closed the Eiffel Tower.
In the western city of Nantes, rumbling tractors joined the parade of marchers and thick clouds of police tear gas were deployed against demonstrators.
The use of police tear was also reported in Lyon and the Brittany city of Rennes.
At Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, about 100 demonstrators blocked a road leading to Terminal 1 on Thursday morning and entered the terminal building, the airport operator said.
It said flights were unaffected, but travellers towing their luggage had to weave their way past flag-waving protesters.
A CGT representative at the airport, Loris Foreman, told BFM TV that the demonstrators wanted “to show the world and Europe that we don’t want to work to 64 years old.”
Striking workers had less of an impact on transport services than during previous days of protests and fewer demonstrators were reported in some cities.
Still, even if somewhat diminished, the marches around the country showed that opposition to the pension reform remains strong.
It’s “a deep anger, a cold anger,” said Sophie Binet, the newly elected general secretary of the CGT union. She described Macron’s government as “completely disconnected from the country and completely bunkerised in its ministries.”
“We can’t turn the page until the reform is withdrawn,” she said, promising more protests.