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Historic protest march on May day

France’s leading unions to march together for first time to mark la Fête du Travail on May 1.

THE LEADING French unions will march together on May 1 - la Fête du Travail - to mark concerns over the government’s handling of the economic crisis.

Union leaders say the arrangement is “historic” as it is the first time they will all march together on this symbolic day, which has always been associated with worker’s rights.

Those taking part will include the CGT, CFDT, FO, CFE-CGC, CFTC, Solidaires, Unsa and FSU.

Even on May 1, 2002, when the unions joined together to march in protest after Front National president Jean-Marie le Pen won at the first round of the presidential elections, one leading union, CFTC, marched alone.

The latest protest follows national strikes and marches on March 19 and January 29. This time the union leaders have chosen a public holiday in the hope that more people, including workers’ families, will swell the ranks.

They hope a large turnout will “put pressure on the government and bosses” and that if whole families march it will show that “the crisis is not just affecting employees.”

They also want to show they can call on people to demonstrate in force without necessarily having strikes and causing disruptions to services.

In March between 1.2 – 3 million people took part in protests, depending on figures from the police or the CGT union.

The unions believe the government has not done enough to help ordinary people’s spending power or to prevent lay-offs.

Photo: Protesters in Marseille
Afp/Michel Gangne

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