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France ready for historic May 1st protests, nearly a million citizens will take to the streets

Almost a million people could take to the streets of France in historic May 1 protests against the country’s pension reforms.

Unions have announced plans for International Labor Day to show they have not given up the fight against government reform.

The head of the CFDT union, Laurent Berger, said he expects a million or maybe half a million demonstrators today.

He added that there will be “300 gathering points”. Authorities predict that between 500,000 and 650,000 people could take to the streets across the country, including 80,000 to 100,000 in Paris.

Air traffic is also expected to be disrupted, with 25-33 percent of flights canceled at the country’s biggest airports, and disruptions could continue at Orly airport until Tuesday.

This May 1st is also the 13th day of mobilization against the controversial pension reform, after France’s Constitutional Council approved a plan to raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64. President Emmanuel Macron’s plan was signed into French law in April.

Opinion polls have shown his popularity has fallen to its lowest level in four years. Protests are also expected in other European countries, such as Portugal, where the annual march is expected to be used to draw attention to other issues.

Last month, tens of thousands of teachers took to the streets to demand higher wages, while others protested housing prices and the cost of living.

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