pension refom yellow vest protests france
© AFP / Francois Guillot
France's capital is heading for a new chaotic weekend, as anti-government Yellow Vests and protesters defying the upcoming pension reform have descended simultaneously upon its streets.

France has endured a full month of protests against the controversial reform - on Saturday, the general strike reached its 31st consecutive day. Moreover, Saturday's action coincided with Act 60 of the anti-government Yellow Vests protests that have been plaguing France for over a year now.

The protesters carried the flags of various trade unions, as well as assorted banners that primarily targeted pension reform. Some of them lit firecrackers on the march. One man, however, was spotted carrying a large plush heart, bearing a very personal message for France's President Emmanuel Macron. The inscription on the giant plushie reads "Macron, I hate you with all my heart."

The infamous 'Macron out' slogan, frequently used by the Yellow Vests, has apparently evolved over the year of turmoil; at least one banner reading "Macron out - and take your reform with you" has been spotted during the protest.

So far, the protest remains relatively peaceful despite large numbers of people attending - only minor clashes with the police and very limited use of tear gas have been reported.

The pension protests, broadly supported by French trade unions, kicked off in early December, taking form of mass rallies, attempts to block infrastructure, strikes and work walkouts. The unrest was triggered by the government's plan to scrap the existing 42 pension schemes and roll out a unified, points-based one instead.

Critics of the reform accuse the government of trying to rip the workers off and stealing their hard-earned benefits, such as the right to early retirement for certain jobs. The authorities, however, maintain the reform is actually designed to simplify the pension system and make it more transparent.