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First litmus test for Macron, over 400,000 French protesters storm the streets against labor reforms

Reports say two of the biggest unions distanced themselves from the action, indicating they may be willing to compromise.

First litmus test for Macron, over 400,000 French protesters storm the streets against labor reforms

Reports say two of the biggest unions distanced themselves from the action, indicating they may be willing to compromise.

13 September 2017 Wednesday 08:54
First litmus test for Macron, over 400,000 French protesters storm the streets against labor reforms

By Azania Post Reporter

MORE than 400,000 protesters entered in the streets in France against changes that the Macron’s government had suggested.

Reports say two of the biggest unions distanced themselves from the action, indicating they may be willing to compromise.

It is the first litmus test for President Emmanuel Macron, but he missed the disruption as he was assessing Hurricane Irma damage in the Caribbean.

He was visiting St Martin and St Barts, which were among the islands worst hit by the hurricane last week.

The first marches took place in Marseille, Perpignan and Nice in the south, Bordeaux in the west and Le Havre and Caen in the north, with the biggest attracting several thousand demonstrators. Scuffles were reported in Lyon as police blocked the path of protesters.

Police and protest organisers differed widely about the numbers involved, with the hard-left CGT union putting the total across France at 400,000.

In Paris, projectiles were thrown at police and a glass advertising hoarding was vandalised. The authorities responded with tear gas and a water cannon.

The interior ministry said a total of 13 arrests were made across the country.

'Slackers on the move'

Macron came to power with a pledge to overhaul France's enormous labour code and lower unemployment to 7% by 2022, down from its current level of 9.5%.

The new laws hand companies more flexibility in negotiating wages and conditions directly with employees, and limit damages paid to workers for unfair dismissal.

Macron's team announced the plans last month after weeks of consultations with unions and employers.

Last week, the president angered opponents with a remark on a visit to Greece. "I am fully determined and I won't cede any ground, not to slackers, nor cynics, nor hardliners," he said.

Several of Tuesday's protest placards targeted these comments, with messages such as "too lazy to think up a slogan" and "slackers on the move", which mocked the name of the president's centrist LREM party (Republic on the Move).First litmus test for Macron , over 400,000 French protesters storm the streets against labour reforms

BBC

Updated: 14.09.2017 11:38
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