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Protests in France against Emmanuel Macron

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017 | World News

On Tuesday protest against the planned labor market reforms of President Emmanuel Macron was formed with demonstrations across France. "Labor law needs to be reformed, but not to take away the rights of employees and workers," said the head of trade union CGT, Philippe Martinez, at a rally in Paris.

In the port city of Marseilles 7500 people went to the streets, according to police, the CGT estimated the number of demonstrators to 60,000. In Lyon, 4,000 people demonstrated in the police, almost 5,000 in Bordeaux.

First countrywide protest day
The protest of the street is considered one of the most difficult challenges for Macron in the implementation of the planned reforms. His predecessors, after mass protests, were forced to considerably reduce their reforms. "I am absolutely determined," said Macron on Friday. "I will not make any concessions – not the lazy, not the cynics, not the hardliners." The lazy allusion, according to his words, referred to those who had failed with their plans in the past. However, many interpreted the remark as an attack on the unemployed or workers who took advantage of the protection afforded.

Trade unions are traditionally very strong in France. This time, however, two of them, including France's largest trade union CFDT, refuse to participate in the protest. The CGT is the second largest union. According to surveys, voters consider Macron's plans for reform mixed. Economic growth in France is on the rise, unemployment is falling. It is therefore unclear which dynamics the protest will achieve.

Demonstrators chanted Macron
Amongst other things, the SNCF has been struck by a number of trains. Further protests were made in the capital of Paris, for example, in the cities of Marseilles and Nice, Breton Rennes, and the port city of Le Havre.

 "Macron, you're done, those who can not get the ass off are now on the street," some protesters shouted. They thus responded to the unanimously criticized announcement by the trade unions that they would not tolerate any lazy people. In Paris, protesters held signs with inscriptions like "Lazy of all countries, unite" or "Lazy in retirement".

First demonstrations already in summer 2016
In the fight against high unemployment in France, the socio-liberal government company wants to give more scope and security. Among other things, redundancies are to be made easier, redundancies are to be capped, employee representatives are to be put together and company agreements strengthened. While employers' organizations welcome the reform, trade unions criticize the project as a "social step backwards."

Already in the summer of 2016 there had been strikes and demonstrations in France against a reform of the labor market, which was decided by Macroon's socialist predecessor François Hollande. On the fringe of the demonstrations, rioters were constantly violent clashes with the police. Even before the protests of Tuesday, riots were feared.

Gradient in the country – Important day for Macron
For Macroon, the day of protest was an important test of the extent to which he opposed his reform policy. For according to labor law he wants to reform unemployment insurance, vocational training and the pension system. In surveys, the 39-year-old, who had clearly defeated the right-wing populist Marine Le Pen in the presidential election in May, has been in free-fall for weeks. He has, however, reaffirmed his desire to maintain his course of reform.

The regulations for the reform of the labor market are to be adopted by the Cabinet on 22 September and can enter into force soon after. New protests are planned for the 21st and 23rd September.

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