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Thousands protest against eco-tax

Police bombarded with stones and chrysanthemums as demonstrators demand action to save Brittany’s jobs

THOUSANDS of eco-tax protesters demonstrated in the Breton town of Quimper at the weekend and police were attacked with stones, iron bars and even potted chrysanthemums as they tried to contain the crowd in Place de la Résistance.

Up to 30,000 took to the streets in protest against the region’s continuing jobs crisis, plus the planned imposition of the new HGV tax that protesters feared would destroy more businesses.

This morning CRS riot police were guarding two eco-taxe gateways – which calculate how much tax has to be paid – at Elven, near Vannes, and Brech', near Auray, after protesters had demolished five others in the region.

Protesters wearing red bonnets – a symbol of the Revolution – had stacked tyres round the legs of the other gateways before setting them on fire.

Six speed traps were also destroyed in Morbihan as protests mounted against Parisian indifference to the continuing haemorrhaging of jobs.

Workers from the threatened Gad, Doux and Marine Harvest food plants joined farmers, fishermen, office-workers, shop workers and shopkeepers in the Quimper protest that turned violent as police were bombarded with lumps of concrete, beer bottles and many of the pots of chrysanthemums that had been brought to the square as a symbol of the death of the region’s industry.

One of the organisers, Thierry Merret, of farmers’ federation FDSEA-Finistère, said: “A social tsunami is sweeping across Brittany. We demand the end of ‘social dumping’ [moving jobs to low-wage countries] which is destroying us, and an increase in decentralisation.”

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called for calm and has invited leaders of the protest to meet him to work out “an agreement for the future for Brittany”.

Christian Troadec, mayor of Carhaix, said that “concrete measures” were needed urgently and he called for a ban on profit-making companies laying off staff.
Screengrab: France Télévisions

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