Location France France

Thousands march in Paris in protest at labour reforms

Protesters were gathering in Paris as France’s Senate was expected to vote Tuesday on contested bill reforming employment laws.

Marches were organised by seven trade unions and student organisations in the country’s major cities.

The Eiffel Tower has closed for the day due to a strike of some of the employees. The company running the monument says there were not enough workers to open it for the day in conditions sufficient to assure security and public amenities.

Air France warned customers of some delays and last-minute cancellations might happen due to a strike of some air controllers.

In Paris, unions and workers planned a march under close police watch from Bastille plaza to Italy plaza, in the east of the capital. The police were checking protesters’ bags before letting them enter the area.

The bill has led to about a dozen protests in recent months, often tinged by violence. Five days ago, police allowed only a small march in Paris, to ensure security.

During two weeks of debate, the Senate, led by a conservative majority, has substantially changed the bill to make it more pro-business.

Yet the labour reforms must be debated again in July at France’s lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, led by a Socialist majority.

The Socialist government wants the reforms to make it easier to lay off employees, allow temporary extension of the work week and give company deals priority over industry-wide deals. Some unions argue it would weaken workers’ rights.

French President François Hollande said last week that his government would «go all the way» to enact the reforms.

«It is essential not only to allow businesses to be able to hire more» but to step up training that will lead to more jobs, he said.

The head of the left-wing CGT union, Philippe Martinez, told reporters «public opinion is still largely against this text» before the Paris march was to start in early afternoon.


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