Thousands of French protest against Macron’s reforms
Thousands of French have joined railway strikers in the capital Paris amid heavy police presence to hold a protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s sweeping reforms, a year after he came to office.
Paris authorities ordered 2,000 police officers onto the streets Saturday as marchers gathered from midday in the central Opera square for a protest dubbed “Party for Macron.”
One protester held aloft a placard with the words ‘Mac-ron is disgusting’, a play on words to show his feelings about the president.
The organizer of the march, the far left party Defiant France, had urged participants to attend in a party mood to avoid a repeat of violence and damage that scarred May Day protests in Paris earlier this week.
May Day rallies saw protesters torch cars and vandalize a McDonald’s restaurant and other stores. Authorities blamed masked anarchists who disrupted a peaceful workers march.
On Friday, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux expressed fears that the Saturday demonstration could turn violent.
“We are worried that there could be violence, and so we’re reinforcing security measures,” Griveaux said, adding the police role was to ensure peaceful demonstrations could go ahead.
Some 20,000 demonstrators, including railway workers, retirees, civil servants, and students, joined trade union protests on May Day in Paris to defend public services and denounce Macron’s economic reforms, according to authorities.
Under a union campaign to foil the reforms, rail workers launched three months of nationwide train strikes last month. The strikes mark the biggest industrial action against the president since he took office last year.
The government intends to cut rail workers’ special employment rights so that new hires would not have jobs for life or special retirement perks.