Truckers and students add to government protest woes

Two unions call on lorry drivers to walkout on an indefinite strike from Sunday evening, while students protest against education reforms

Lorry and ambulance drivers are expected to join a walkout called by the CGT and FO unions from Sunday evening in protest at 'the crumbs' offered by the government in response to the gilets jaunes movement.

The unions say that they want to 'defend purchasing power' - and have called on the 700,000 drivers of HGVs, ambulances, removal vans and armoured cash trucks, to strike indefinitely.

Union bosses are also angry at a recent ruling by France's highest administrative court, the Conseil d'Etat, which annulled the provisions of a 2016 decree setting higher rates for overtime for lorry drivers. The CGT said the court's decision "may have a negative impact on the purchasing power" of its members.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Transport had told AFP that the court's ruling had been expected, and 'will not change anything in practice'. It accused the unions of calling a strike under 'a bad pretext'.

Meanwhile, dozens of lycées across France - notably in Versailles, Créteil and Marseille - have been at least partially closed as students protest against the government's education reforms.

Near Paris, police on Tuesday fired tear gas at a group of students throwing stones at them.

The students oppose the government's recent reforms of the Baccalaureate and of the lycée which are currently being implemented.
The reforms aim to orientate students toward specific degrees sooner and to eliminate the three broad subject choices - science, literature or social sciences.
Before their final year students will now choose two specific "major" subjects as well as two "minors" alongside the standard curriculum.

And instead of being based purely on results in the final exams, the new Bac grade would incorporate marks and test results obtained throughout the two final years of school.
Students are also against last year's shake-up of university entrance procedures which they see as being to selective. Protesters also oppose plans to introduce a form of national service for all young adults by 2026.

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