France Sees Mass Street Protests against Macron’s Disputed Social Reforms
Between 160,000 and 300,000 protesters have marched across France.
Hundreds of thousands of people took part in about 100 street rallies across France on Tuesday against President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial social reforms.
The protests have been spearheaded by six French trade unions calling on Macron to “maintain the social model” which is perceived to be threatened by his market-oriented tax and welfare reforms.
Tuesday’s largest rally was in Paris, with some 20,000 demonstrators, AFP and France24 reported. According to the hard-left General Confederation of Labor (CGT), however, the march included about 50,000 people.
A total of 300,000 protesters rallied across France, CGT said. The French Interior Ministry, however, put the nationwide figure at 160,000.
“We’re not complaining, we’re revolting!” chanted students, workers, and pensioners in the first mass protest in France since the end of the summer.
Their chants came in response to Macron’s recent controversial comments made after a talk with a pensioner in the northeastern village of Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises that the French should moan less and strive to be more like wartime leader and later President Charles de Gaulle.
Macron’s rating have been plummeting as he has been pushing unpopular social spending and taxation reforms.
Banners raised by many young protesters condemned “austerity, unemployment”, and many argued that Macron’s proposed welfare reforms would “disadvantage the weakest in society”.
The elderly participants in the protest rallies across France in turn demonstrated their disapproval of pension reforms, while workers expressed concerns over market-oriented reforms of the labor code providing for greater flexibility on wages and labor contracts.
Pascal Pavageau, the leader of the Force Ouvrière (Workers’ Force) union, urged Macron’s government to engage in dialogue “and above all, maintain the social model”
France’s trade unions are planning further demonstrations in the coming months on specific reforms. Those include retirement and unemployment insurance system changes.
Some 300 hooded anarchists resorted to violence during the Paris rally on Tuesday, throwing projectiles at the riot police who used tear gas in response.
A total of 16 people were arrested during the street protests across France, nine of those in Paris, the French Interior Ministry said.
(Banner image: Video grab from CFI)