A demonstrator wearing hood kicks a tear gas canister during a rally in Paris on September 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Supporters of France’s far-left opposition party have staged a protest rally in Paris to voice their discontent with sweeping labor reforms by President Emmanuel Macron, who has suffered a sharp decline in popularity ratings.
The Saturday rallies, organized by Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of the radical leftist France Unbowed party, came a day after the French president signed into law his signature reforms that reportedly simplify employment rules and make hiring and firing easier.
The opposition party and other labor unions say Macron’s changes give employers more flexibility to negotiate pay and conditions with their workers while reducing the costs of firing staff.
“We won’t let them empty the poor’s pockets to feed the rich!” the left-wing party said in leaflets distributed before the march.
The French president, however, believes that the labor reforms, along with an overhaul of unemployment benefits and a training plan for jobless people to be set up next year, will boost economy and bring the unemployment rate down from the current long-standing 9.5 percent.
“Emmanuel Macron has started an arms-wrestling contest with the French people ... but I think we can stop those (labor reform) decrees,” France Unbowed lawmaker Adrien Quatennens told Reuters, saying their aim was to convince people who are not used to taking to the streets to join the rallies. 
The latest rally follows a series of demonstrations across the European country as the labor overhaul is the central pillar in Macron’s promises to create jobs and boost economy.
The 39-year-old French president has faced a slump in his approval rating since his resounding election victory in May. However, he shows no sign of diluting his ambitious plans to overhaul France’s economy.
Nationwide rallies against Macron’s labor reforms last week ended with police firing tear gas in some cities.
The protests, backed by the powerful, hard-left CGT trade union, saw protesters take to the streets in the second round of public opposition to the long-touted changes in the much revered labor code, which has protected the rights of employees in France.
Macron’s critics see the changes to the labor code as a “social coup d’etat.”

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