Rubbish piles up in streets and tear gas fired as French protesters clash with police

ITV News' Chloe Keedy reports from the streets of Paris, where police fire tear gas at angry protesters

Tear gas has been fired and fireworks thrown as protesters in France clashed with police in protest against the government's plans to raise the retirement age.

Thousands of tonnes of rubbish clog the streets of Paris, where protesters staged another night of fiery resistance on Friday to reject the law change.

Refuse workers have been striking for 12 days, joining the likes of transport staff, public sector workers, dock workers and energy workers in nationwide walkouts.

France has been hit by months of protests since January, when President Emmanuel Macron revealed his plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

His government's decision to force the highly unpopular policy through parliament has intensified the protests, which began ramping up again in the French capital early on Friday night.

An article in the French constitution, which allows a government to push a bill through without a vote, was applied on Thursday.

Rubbish piles up in the streets of Paris as garbage collectors go on strike over plans to lift the retirement age in France. Credit: ITV News

Macron has argued that the proposed pension changes are needed to make the French economy more competitive and to keep the pension system from diving into deficit. France, like many richer nations, faces lower birth rates and longer life expectancy.

The far-right National Rally and a small group representing leftist lawmakers and others filed separate no-confidence motions that are expected to be voted on early next week.

Leaders of the influential leftist CGT union called on people to leave schools, factories, refineries and other work places to force the government to withdraw the pension reform bill, which is not yet a law.

Thousands gathered in protest Thursday at the elegant Place de la Concorde, which faces the National Assembly building in Paris. Rallies were also held in other cities, from Rennes and Nantes in eastern France to Lyon and the southern port city of Marseille, where shop windows and bank fronts were smashed, according to French media.

Mountains of rubbish have built as refuse collectors stop work over the government's plans. Credit: ITV News

The trade unions that had organised the strikes and marches said more rallies and protest marches would take place in the days ahead, but stressed that any action should be peaceful.

“This retirement reform is brutal, unjust, unjustified for the world of workers,” they declared on Thursday. The Senate, controlled by conservatives favourable to the Bill, passed it on Thursday morning.

However, frantic counts of lower-house lawmakers showed a slight risk that the pension reform wouldn’t pass, leading to the decision to invoke Article 49-3 of the French Constitution to bypass a vote. If the expected no-confidence motion fails, the pension bill would be considered adopted.

If it passes, it would spell the end for Macron’s retirement reform plan and force the government to resign.

Getting a no-confidence motion to pass is challenging as it requires a majority of 287 lawmakers. The last time a no-confidence vote succeeded was in 1962.

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