Wednesday, June 29, 2016

France: Pressure Builds As Thousands March
Morning Star

THOUSANDS of French workers took to the streets yesterday in continuing protests against EU-prescribed government attacks on their rights.

The march against the so-called El Khomri labour reform law proceeded under the watchful gaze of a heavy police presence.

It came a day before Prime Minister Manuel Valls was due to meet leaders of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) and Workers’ Force (FO), France’s third largest union confederation, over the contentious Bill which has sparked months of mass protests and crippling strikes.

“I hope we’re not just being invited for coffee,” CGT general secretary Philippe Martinez told reporters.

“If the government is not going to give ground it will be a meeting for nothing,” said FO general secretary Jean-Claude Mailly. Crowds of protesters marched in Marseille, Rennes and other cities but the Paris march took place under extra security with 2,500 riot police deployed with instructions to search bags for weapons and arrest would-be troublemakers on the spot.

Officers had orders to arrest anyone attempting to hide their faces behind clothing or to bring in weapons.

Police fired tear gas early in the march to disperse a small number of masked youths who tried to vandalise a bus shelter.

The government banned a march last Thursday citing security risks but backed down to let it go ahead on a revised route.

The labour Bill would raise weekly working-time limits from 36 to 45 hours and allow individual firms to opt out of collectively agreed terms and conditions on some points.

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