French unions stage massive fresh street march against controversial labor reforms

September 15, 2016 5:15 pm

Alstom employees demonstrate to protest against the closure of the French power and transport engineering company and the government’s labor law reforms on September 15, 2016 in Belfort, . (Photo by AFP)

Fresh massive rallies have been held across France in protest against the Socialist government’s controversial labor law reforms.  
Protesters took to the streets across France for new demonstrations against the labor reforms after the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) union and some other groups called for protests and strikes on Thursday.  
In the eastern French city of Belfort, employees of engineering giant Alstom took to the streets to protest the planned closure of the train-maker’s plant in the area. The shutdown would lay off 400 workers. 
Massive rallies were also expected to take place in the cities of Lyon and Marseille. 
Meanwhile, the French civil aviation authority advised airlines serving Paris two airports to cancel 15 percent of their flights on Thursday.
Irish no-frills airline Ryanair announced that it had cancelled dozens of flights to or through France because of the ongoing strike. British low-cost EasyJet has also announced the grounding of more than five dozen flights. 
The street protests, many of them scarred by violence, have brought thousands of people into the streets over the past few months but the number of protesters has dwindled as the public seems to lose the appetite to fight the law.  

A French protester holds up a placard reading ‘Labor law – hard regression’ next to another protester with a placard that reads ‘We are the number’ as part of a demonstration against the controversial labor reforms of the French government at Place de la Bastille in Paris on September 15, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The reforms, which were adopted by parliament in July, aim to make labor market more flexible, with the government saying the measures are aimed at boosting the country’s economy and curbing the two-digit unemployment rate.
But opponents believe the reforms are in favor of employers. 
Unions also say the government wants to make it easier and less costly for employers to lay off workers, calling the reforms an attack on workers’ rights.
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