France: 5.7 Million Workers set to Down their Tools this Week


France is poised to see a rather interestingly packed week; one that would be full of, among other things, strikes. The labor market in the nation offered to have its intended strikes postponed from today, Monday, to Tuesday in honor of Monday’s Pentecost holiday. Tuesday will see what is estimated to be over 5.7 million public service workers hold demonstrations in protest against numerous issues.

On the top of the list of their grievance are the anticipated reforms that the government has hinted to roll out to help change the labor industry. In particular, the government has called for cutting of up to 120,000 public service jobs as part of what it terms as cost-cutting measures. Also, the groups have cited issues related to salary and remuneration where workers are said to earn meager wages. The Tuesday’s demonstrations are deemed to be the largest ever since President Emmanuel Macron took office. With 130 demonstrations scheduled nationally, Paris is expected to be on lockout for most businesses and offices as workers down their tools and take to the streets.

Disruption of services is therefore expected to be experienced all across the country with activities being paralyzed in sectors such as schools, healthcare as well as the whole of the transport industry. The Paris’ Lyon airport has acted in advance and canceled over 20 percent of its flights due to an anticipated shortage of facilitative workforce.

On subsequent days after Tuesday, numerous packed activities are anticipated in various parts of the nation. Particular focus would be laid on the expected rail workers union meeting with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Friday where they would be expected to negotiate extensively on the issue of the scheduled railway labor reforms. The union’s leadership has not yet offered its opinion on whether they intend to support the government’s bid to reform the industry or not.

Amidst the labor protests, it is expected that a major focus would be laid on tainting president Macron’s leadership and discrediting his reform-packed regime. Jean-Luc Melenchon, a far-leftist, has openly lobbied for this coming Saturday’s protest to be dedicated to being solely anti-Macron.

Whereas the protests have a history of turning out mildly violent, the police have not tendered any statement of warning or guidelines on the maintenance of law and order during the demonstrations.

However, not all French people are in support of the strikes. The IFOP surveyed in the course of last week, a poll that revealed that up to 58 percent of the population terms the demonstrations as illegal while 68 percent wish that the government could carry on with the labor reforms.

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