Thousands on streets in employment law protest

street protest in Paris
Street protest in CGT day of action against employment law reforms

Flights cancelled as air traffic controllers join strike that may be just the first step

As President Macron flew out to the Caribbean to give support to islanders struck by the hurricanes, protesters took to the streets across France and then in Paris to oppose his plans to change employment law.

Philippe Martin, head of the hard-line CGT union, claimed a success with “more than 100,000 people” on the streets in the regions – although police figures gave nothing like that.

The CGT said more than 4,000 different protests were being held across the country, from strikes in air and rail transport, hospitals, schools, government and local government departments and in the energy industry. In addition, it said another 200 street marches took place.

Ryanair said 20,000 passengers had flights cancelled due to the strike by air traffic controllers while British Airways said it cancelled 16 flights. Easyjet gave no figures but said some flights had been cancelled with many delayed.

Air control in Marseille particularly badly hit and it was in the city that former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon of La France Insoumise led a street protest that the police said had 7,500 protesters but the CGT counted 60,000.

In Paris, several thousand protesters joined a march from the Bastille to Place d’Italie and although generally peaceful there was some stone-throwing and some banks along the route had boarded-up windows.

With another protest promised for September 21, Mr Martinez said it was a successful first step in opposing the reforms to the Code de Travail.

Apart from La France Insoumise, his union was largely isolated in its protest after the CFDT and Force Ouvrière refused to take part. They said they had gained concessions over the new employment laws.

Government ministers, however, refused to budge with spokesman Christophe Castaner saying the French people had voted for change in the presidential election. However, he put his foot in his mouth when he said the people “would see an increase in their tax bill (feuille d'impôts)” instead of an “increase in their pay packet (feuille de paie)”.

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