200,000 Protesters Take to the Streets in Paris
In order to help jump start the sluggish French economy, French President Emmanuel Macron has introduced several economic reform measures over the last several months. The goal of the reforms is to attract more business and bring down the unemployment rate that is nearly nine percent.
Mr. Macron has introduced measures to bring down the numbers of those employed in the public service. To to this, he intends to privatize some services. Mr. Macron has also instituted labor reforms that will make it easier for employers to dismiss workers. He has also introduced measures to limit benefits to new workers hired to work in the French rail system.
These reforms are meeting with serious disapproval from public sector workers and those in the labor union movement in France. In order to express their displeasure with President Macron and his policies, 200,000 protesters took to the streets of French cities with almost 50,000 marching within Paris. In Paris, there were clashes between the protesters and the police force.
While many were at the protests, others across France were striking from work as their expression of protest. Railway workers and public sector workers left work for the day. Unions who represent the workers said that other strikes and demonstrations are planned for the days ahead.
The protesting and strikes caused disruption with public transportation in Paris. Some routes were cancelled, and other routes experienced significant delays.
In addition to these strikes and protests against Mr. Macron's policies, French airline workers planned a strike for Friday. 25 to 30 percent of flights are cancelled for Friday. French airline workers are seeking a six percent pay increase.
While the protests were significant on Thursday, protests against reform measures proposed by Presidents Sarkozy and Hollande were much larger. Many in France are in support of the current president's reform ideas. Whereas other presidents backed down in the face of protests, analysts believe the Mr. Macron will stand his ground. If he were to back away from his reform program, any additional reforms during the course of his presidency would be virtually impossible.
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