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French union members protest labor reforms backed by Macron

French union members protest labor reforms backed by Macron

French union members protest labor reforms backed by Macron

A sea of labor unrest roiled the streets of several French cities Tuesday as thousands of union members marched against proposed reforms backed by President Emmanuel Macron.

Many of the protesters in Paris and across the country carried signs that said “Slacker on Strike,” — a reaction to Macron’s earlier statements that he would give no ground to “slackers.”

Macron has made overhauling France’s notoriously rigid labor laws a top priority for his new administration — despite stiff pushback from the far-left unions.

Last month the government unveiled a cap on payouts for dismissals and greater leeway for companies to fire and hire employees.

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While it leaves the beloved 35-hour French work week intact, it gives greater autonomy to companies in setting pay and working conditions.

Macron has said the new measures will be adopted Sept. 22 over the vocal indignation of many French unions.

Young demonstrators march behind a banner reading "Youth is back to play dirty tricks on you" during a protest called by several French unions against the labor law reform Tuesday in Nantes.

Young demonstrators march behind a banner reading “Youth is back to play dirty tricks on you” during a protest called by several French unions against the labor law reform Tuesday in Nantes.

(LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)

Marchers in Bordeaux chanted: “Macron you’re screwed, the slackers are in the streets.”

In Paris, some 24,000 turned out and riot police clashed with some protesters on the edges of the march.

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It was led by the Communist Party-linked CGT union, but two of France’s other powerful unions, including its largest, the CFDT, didn’t join in the marches, to Macron’s relief.

“I am fully determined and I won’t cede any ground, not to slackers, nor cynics, nor hardliners,” Macron said last week.

He denied that his “slackers” comment was an attack on underemployed or the unemployed, which was how some of his union antagonists chose to interpret the remark.

“We will make Macron back down,” said Jean-Luc Melenchon, a far-left firebrand.

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“I am fully determined and I won’t cede any ground, not to slackers, nor cynics, nor hardliners,” Macron said last week.

“I am fully determined and I won’t cede any ground, not to slackers, nor cynics, nor hardliners,” Macron said last week.

(CHRISTOPHE ENA/AFP/Getty Images)

Macron hopes to stimulate the country’s slow economy by updating some of France’s strict labor laws that give deep protections to workers.

With unemployment above 9% for roughly a decade, many in France say they are ready for a change.

But the CGT union leadership said it wasn’t going to stop its protests.

Tuesday was just the “first phase,” the leadership said.

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Many of the protesters in Paris and across the country carried signs that said “Slacker on Strike,” — a reaction to Macron’s earlier statements that he would give no ground to “slackers.”

Many of the protesters in Paris and across the country carried signs that said “Slacker on Strike,” — a reaction to Macron’s earlier statements that he would give no ground to “slackers.”

(PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Macron wasn’t in France to witness the unrest Tuesday.

He landed in the French Caribbean to survey the devastation wrought by Hurricane Irma on the territory of Saint Martin.

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on the job
emmanuel macron
france
labor unions
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French union members protest labor reforms backed by Macron

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