Thousands protest Macron labour reforms in France

Thousands protest Macron labour reforms in France”

The day of strikes and rallies organised by unions and left-wing activists is being seen as the recently victorious French President's first major domestic test.

He was busy holed up in the Elysee Palace working on what he intends to be the biggest shake-up of France's labour laws since at least the Second World War.

But for a first show of force, Tuesday's showing was underwhelming, highlighting a grudging acceptance of Macron's plans and exhaustion among trade unions and far-left forces, who staged weeks of strikes and protests a year ago that failed to make the government back down on its plans.

According to the French Interior Ministry, 223,000 people were involved.

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

Riot police clashed with hooded youths in isolated skirmishes on the fringe of the march led by the Communist Party-linked CGT union in Paris.

Ryanair has cancelled 110 flights today due to a strike by air traffic controllers in France. "We need to pass this reform quickly, so that the first effects are felt fast".

Attendance was being scrutinized as a measure of the resistance to Macron's economic agenda, which is meant to help bring down stubbornly high unemployment. It is one of the largest trade unions in the country.

Those remarks were echoed later on Wednesday by Work Minister Muriel Penicaud, who said the proposals created to give employers greater flexibility over hiring and firing stem from a campaign promise made by President Emmanuel Macron.

"You never know what will happen at a company and how can you be expected to plan for the future if you're not safe?" public sector worker Patricia told The Local as he walked with the demonstrators in central Paris. A statement said four people were detained and one person with a minor injury was taken to hospital. A code that protects entrepreneurs and businesses. "It's a real scandal", she told AFP.

However, Macron has the advantage of division among the unions.

Macron's popularity has taken a hit in wake of the social protests and the Irma disaster.

Fewer than one in 12 French workers belongs to a trade union compared with nearly one in four in Britain - and, as Mr Griveaux points out, France suffers fewer working days lost to strike action than Britain.

In Paris, several thousand protesters joined a march from the Bastille to Place d'Italie and although generally peaceful there was some stone-throwing and some banks along the route had boarded-up windows.

A day of strikes and demonstrations was launched by France's biggest trade union, the CGT, on Tuesday opposing Macron's reforms, which are meant to tackle high unemployment by loosening the rules that govern how businesses hire and fire staff.

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