Pact protesters take to streets

Thousands join marches in towns and cities across France against President Hollande’s flagship Responsibility Pact

19 March 2014

AN ESTIMATED 240,000 demonstrators in 140 towns and cities across France protested against Francois Hollande’s “Responsibility Pact” yesterday, according to organisers.

In Paris alone, unions said that 60,000 joined the march from Montparnasse to les Invalides, said the CGT union, which had called for the day of protest, along with the FSU and Solidarity. Police said the number of marchers was 10,000.

Unions said 12,000 demonstrators joined a similar protest march in Toulouse. The police put the figure closer to 3,100. Meanwhile, organisers in Marseille said 42,000 people joined the march there. Police estimated the figure at 5,900.

The marchers took to the streets to voice their opposition to what the unions said would be “disastrous consequences” for the public service of the planned €50bn savings planned for 2017 as part of Mr Hollande’s flagship policy.

According to the CGT, yesterday’s protests should “encourage all those who believe that the Responsibility Pact is a bad response to the problems facing the French economy,” and “those who are struggling in the face of restructuring and job cuts”.

One retired France Telecom worker in Toulouse said she was marching for her children and grandchildren.

Jean-Claude Mailly, secretary general of Force Ouvrière (FO) denounced the Responsibility Pact as a “pact of convenience” and said “no one knows how it will be funded”.

Solidarity’s Annick Coupé described Mr Hollande’s policy as “a gift for business”.

“It will not solve anything on employment,” she said.

As well as the marches, flights over France were yesterday disrupted as air-traffic controllers joined a 24-hour walkout. However, disruption across the public transport network was avoided, with SNCF and RATP both saying their services were functioning normally.

Photo: Guillaume Paumier

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