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France insists labor reform despite nationwide protest

World2017-09-13

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Wednesday that he would pay attention to demonstrations against his planned labor reforms but pledged to push through with them, a day after protests took place nationwide. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe speaks during a press conference at the Hotel Matignon in Paris on September 11, 2017. Thousands of hard-left trade unionists marched through French cities on Tuesday to protest against President Emmanuel Macron's labor law reforms, although turnout appeared lower than at demonstrations in previous years. After weeks of negotiations, the government last month set out measures including a cap on payouts for dismissals judged unfair, and greater freedom for companies to hire and fire. Philippe said that while he was paying close attention to the protests, the election this year had nevertheless shown a willingness by French citizens to back the reforms. "I am listening and I am paying attention. But let me allow myself to state that the French, when they vote, also have a right to be treated with respect. And the reform that we are putting in place, it was announced by the President at the time of the election," he told France 2 television. Anti-riot policemen (L) hold off protesters during a protest called by several French unions against the labour law reform, on September 12, 2017 in Nantes, western France. Macron’s first street test Thousands of French people protested on Tuesday across the country against President Emmanuel Macron's reform to loosen rigid labor regulations, which he said was needed to create more jobs and revive wane economy. Despite the decision of French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT) and Workers' Force (FO) unions to stay away, the General Confederation of Labour union's (CGT) call brought 400,000 demonstrators onto the streets in different French cities, according to organizers. In Paris, 60,000 protesters took part in the demonstration, CGT said, while police set the number at 24,000. France's President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a press conference during a visit to the French Caribbean island of St. Martin on September 12, 2017. Similar crowd took the streets of the southern town of Marseille. Up to 16,000 people participated in the movement in Toulouse and 10,000 in Rennes, west France, the union's data showed. Other rallies were also reported also in Nice, Caen, Saint Nazaire and Le Havre. "It's a first one and it looks like it's a success," head of the CGT, Philippe Martinez, was quoted as saying by local media."We agree on a reform of the labor reform but we refuse to give full powers to the employers," he said. Joining protestors in Marseille, Jean-Luc Melenchon, chief of hard-left "France Unbowed" party, said "Mr. Macron knows very well it's a power struggle, that's what he wants." "We will make him back down," he added. Facing street protests amid sliding public support, France's youngest head of state in modern history, stood firm in passing the reform "without hesitation and with the "certainty that the country needs it." "I will be absolutely determined and I will not give anything, neither to the idlers nor the cynics nor to the extremes," he said during a recent visit to Athens. With the disputed reform, Macron eyes to lessen labor rules by offering more flexibility to companies to hire and fire and more freedom in terms of pay and working conditions that the unions said were unfair. About 1,200 policemen were deployed to secure the anti-labor reform protest in Paris. However, violence has been reported in the capital and in some other cities. A group of 300 hooded youths threw projectiles at riot police which responded by tear gas and water canons, Paris prefecture said in a statement. Four individuals were arrested on charges of insulting and throwing projectiles at police, it added. Fresh protest is scheduled for September 21, a day before the government adopts the new code. (CGTN)

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Wednesday that he would pay attention to demonstrations against his planned labor reforms but pledged to push through with them, a day after protests took place nationwide.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe speaks during a press conference at the Hotel Matignon in Paris on September 11, 2017.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe speaks during a press conference at the Hotel Matignon in Paris on September 11, 2017.

Thousands of hard-left trade unionists marched through French cities on Tuesday to protest against President Emmanuel Macron's labor law reforms, although turnout appeared lower than at demonstrations in previous years.

After weeks of negotiations, the government last month set out measures including a cap on payouts for dismissals judged unfair, and greater freedom for companies to hire and fire.

Philippe said that while he was paying close attention to the protests, the election this year had nevertheless shown a willingness by French citizens to back the reforms.

"I am listening and I am paying attention. But let me allow myself to state that the French, when they vote, also have a right to be treated with respect. And the reform that we are putting in place, it was announced by the President at the time of the election," he told France 2 television.

Anti-riot policemen (L) hold off protesters during a protest called by several French unions against the labour law reform, on September 12, 2017 in Nantes, western France.

Anti-riot policemen (L) hold off protesters during a protest called by several French unions against the labour law reform, on September 12, 2017 in Nantes, western France.

Macron’s first street test

Thousands of French people protested on Tuesday across the country against President Emmanuel Macron's reform to loosen rigid labor regulations, which he said was needed to create more jobs and revive wane economy.

Despite the decision of French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT) and Workers' Force (FO) unions to stay away, the General Confederation of Labour union's (CGT) call brought 400,000 demonstrators onto the streets in different French cities, according to organizers.

In Paris, 60,000 protesters took part in the demonstration, CGT said, while police set the number at 24,000.

 France's President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a press conference during a visit to the French Caribbean island of St. Martin on September 12, 2017.

France's President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a press conference during a visit to the French Caribbean island of St. Martin on September 12, 2017.

Similar crowd took the streets of the southern town of Marseille. Up to 16,000 people participated in the movement in Toulouse and 10,000 in Rennes, west France, the union's data showed. Other rallies were also reported also in Nice, Caen, Saint Nazaire and Le Havre.

"It's a first one and it looks like it's a success," head of the CGT, Philippe Martinez, was quoted as saying by local media."We agree on a reform of the labor reform but we refuse to give full powers to the employers," he said.

Joining protestors in Marseille, Jean-Luc Melenchon, chief of hard-left "France Unbowed" party, said "Mr. Macron knows very well it's a power struggle, that's what he wants."

"We will make him back down," he added.

Facing street protests amid sliding public support, France's youngest head of state in modern history, stood firm in passing the reform "without hesitation and with the "certainty that the country needs it."

"I will be absolutely determined and I will not give anything, neither to the idlers nor the cynics nor to the extremes," he said during a recent visit to Athens.

With the disputed reform, Macron eyes to lessen labor rules by offering more flexibility to companies to hire and fire and more freedom in terms of pay and working conditions that the unions said were unfair.

About 1,200 policemen were deployed to secure the anti-labor reform protest in Paris. However, violence has been reported in the capital and in some other cities.

A group of 300 hooded youths threw projectiles at riot police which responded by tear gas and water canons, Paris prefecture said in a statement.

Four individuals were arrested on charges of insulting and throwing projectiles at police, it added.

Fresh protest is scheduled for September 21, a day before the government adopts the new code.

(CGTN)

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