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France - Labour Reform

May Day parades will protest proposed labour law reforms

Recent protests against proposed labour law reform in Paris
Recent protests against proposed labour law reform in Paris REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Today’s May Day rallies will pull together all the different trade unions and groups opposed to the proposed reform of the Labour laws. The traditional marches, which will take place later today, are likely to be tense affairs after violence marred demonstrations earlier this month

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Police are expected to be out in force following protests on April 28 during which dozens of police officers were wounded and 214 arrest were made.

Nearly united

What is May Day?

The Minister for the Interior, Bernard Cazeneuve, in a telegram to senior police officers yesterday (April 30), outlined a number of measures to be taken to avoid a repeat of the violence at previous demonstrations.

William Martinet, president of the UNEF students union, accepted that more needed to be done to protect and police the marches.

For its part, the left wing political party Le Parti de Gauche demanded that the Minister take action against what it says is the growing using of violence by police and has demanded that police be forbidden to use arms designed to launch projectiles and which are believed to be responsible for at least some of the injuries at earlier demonstrations.

The leaders of the CGT trade union, Philippe Martinez, and the Force Ouvriere trade union, Jean-Claude Mailly, will lead today’s main march in Paris, which will leave Place de la Bastille at 15:00 this afternoon and head for Nation in the south east of the city.

There will be representations from all the major student unions. There will also be marches in other major towns and cities all over France.

However, neither the CFDT nor the CFTC unions, both of whom support the proposed Labour reform, will be marching today. The CGT and CFDT fell out in 2013 following an agreement made by the CFDT over job security. Since then, relations between the two have worsened considerably.

National Front Marches

Meanwhile, France’s far-right National Front party has moved its annual May 1st gathering from its traditional location near the famous Louvre, to another location at Saint Augustin, a church in north central Paris.

The National Front said it had made the decision after the Islamic State armed group announced earlier this year that the National Front is on the list of targets.

However, the founder of the party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, will still hold a rally at the traditional location, in defiance of current party leader Marine Le Pen – the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen.

The two have fallen out in recent years over the direction the party is taking and the very public dispute has seen both father and daughter publicly denigrate each other.

In 2015, Jean-Marie le Pen was removed from the list of speakers at the May 1 event, but appeared on stage anyway in a move that many saw as a purposeful attempt to undermine his daughter’s legitimacy.

 

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