Students, trade union and even politicians, including rebel Socialist lawmakers, marched on Wednesday in Paris streets and across French cities in a nationwide protest against a government’s planned reform of labor code, according to them, would further undermine workers’ fragile economic situation.
Under grey sky and despite rainy weather, thousands of high school pupils were protesting alongside unions, figures from the Green party, over the controversial reform to express their worries about their future.
“We are on the Left we want a government of Left,” banners said in Paris demonstration.
Videos broadcasted by local news channels showed them chanting “this is only the beginning”, pledging a massive demonstration on March 17.
Media reports said 250 protests were scheduled on Wednesday across the country. About 7,000 people participated in the protest in Lyon, police figures showed. However, violence erupted in France’s main second town where three people have been arrested and two policemen have been injured.
According to CGT figures, 10,000 people were numbered in Toulouse, south France, up to 2,500 demonstrators reportedly took party in the rally in Rennes and thousands others were numbered in the southern town of Marseille.
“It’s a first big mobilization. It starts strong. We must continue. The government needs to hear the message of young people, workers and private employees. The (law) withdrawal is a requirement and then we will discuss,” Philippe Martinez, general secretary of main trade union CGT, told the news channel BFMTV.
Under fire on broken promises to bring down jobless claims, the ruling Socialists proposed to reform the country’s strictly codified labor code in a way to make layoffs easier, reduce overtime pay and economic redundancies and open to negotiation working hours and rest time holiday.
A fierce criticism form trade unions, right and left wings and divisions in the ruling Socialist party, forced the government to delay the presentation of the law in a cabinet meeting, initially scheduled for Wednesday, to March 24 “to remove all the misunderstanding” and “to correct what needs to be”, according to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
Speaking after a weekly cabinet meeting, Stephane Le Foll, the government’s spokesman, said youth mobilization against the draft bill was “quite legitimate”.
“They have worries and we need to be able to hear and to have precise answers (to their concerns),” he added.
French youth are also launching an action to block the bill via internet with a petition lured more than 1.2 million signatures.
Unemployment in France stands at 10.2 with young people aged between 18 and 25 years representing the large slice of jobseekers. Enditem