PARIS (Dispatches) -- Yellow vest protesters have clashed with riot police in Paris on the fourth year of the yellow vest demonstrations, where demonstrators took to the streets to vent their anger over high costs of living and other issues.
They gathered in Place de la Bourse and marched towards Place Anne-Marie Carriere. Videos circulating on social media showed police pushing back the demonstrators, using tear gas and batons against the protesters.
Josiane, who did not want to give her last name, has been participating in the demonstrations for four years.
“We can no longer live in France, our fridge is empty,” Josiane told Anadolu Agency, adding that hospitals and social services are in a bad condition.
Another protester, Charlotte, said inequalities are increasing in France at an unprecedented rate.
The yellow vest movement, which started in France on Nov.17, 2018, in response to fuel price hikes and deteriorating economic conditions, continues with protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s socioeconomic policies.
Demonstrators take to Paris streets every Saturday, chanting “We are here for the dignity of the workers and the better world, even if Macron does not want to.”
Protesters have said they want social justice, more democracy and a referendum to be organized with the initiative of citizens.
Over the past three months, French major trade unions have staged several mass demonstrations in Paris and hundreds of other locations across France to call for higher salaries amid soaring cost of living.
Last week, nationwide strikes initiated by the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) union resulted in severe transport disruptions in Paris and other major French cities. Demonstrators included workers from such sectors as transport, education, healthcare, energy, trade and manufacturing, as well as supporters of the Yellow Vests movement.
Unions have staged strikes across several sectors in recent weeks seeking pay hikes or increased hiring as spiraling energy costs feed into widespread inflation.
In France, gas pumps have been running dry as workers’ strikes continue in the refineries of the major French oil companies. Currently about a third of French gas stations are facing a shortage or lack of gasoline which has caused problems for millions of French drivers.
Before the war in Ukraine broke out in late February, Russia was Europe’s largest gas supplier, supplying about 45 percent of the bloc’s gas imports.
However, Russia scaled back the flow of gas to Europe, as Western countries announced multiple rounds of sanctions against Moscow.
In October, strikes affected work at 10 French nuclear power plants, with maintenance delayed at 13 reactors considerably reducing French power production.
Union leaders are hoping to step up pressure on Macron as he prepares to revive a controversial pensions overhaul that would push back the official retirement age from 62 to 64 or 65.
Europe has been battling surging inflation for the past year with inflation reaching a historic high of 10.7% last month.
The European Central Bank has announced three rate hikes this year, bringing the rates from negative territory to 1.5%. The soaring cost of energy has been the main driver of higher inflation across the whole continent in recent months.
Next year Europe’s output and income will be nearly half a trillion Euros lower than the pre Russian war, International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts.