Thousands in France march to protest Macron's labor law
Sep. 21, 2017
PARIS (AP) — Tens of thousands of protesters marched in Paris and other French cities against President Emmanuel Macron's contested labor law reforms Thursday — a day before he adopts them by executive order.
The nationwide action, 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 that will give more power to employers to hire and fire workers. Macron says that's needed to power the stagnant French economy and boost jobs.
In cities across the country, demonstrators waved anti-capitalist placards and angry personal messages against Macron, whose popularity has recently taken a hit.
In Paris, huge crowds turned out to a protest that police said was attended by 16,000 people. Organizers put the figure at 55,000.
That protest was largely peaceful, but some localized, brief scuffles broke out between a few dozen violent protesters wearing black hoods and riot police using tear gas.
Demonstrators brandishing posters reading "The state ruins the people" marched past the posh La Rotonde restaurant where Macron was branded arrogant for prematurely celebrating his victory in the first round of the elections before he had won the presidency.
The latest protests come a week after hundreds of thousands of protesters — 220,000 according to police and half a million according to the unions — took to the streets in many French cities in the first major challenge to Macron's fledgling presidency.
Macron is waving away the opposition and his government is pressing ahead with the labor reforms.
Macron used a special procedure that enabled him to pass the measures without a lengthy debate at parliament. Opponents criticized the method as a sign of authoritarianism.
He is due to sign a series of executive orders Friday following a Cabinet meeting.
Left-wing leader Jean-Luc Melenchon has called for more street protests on Saturday.