SHAFAQNA – Police used tear gas in Paris on Tuesday to disperse a demonstration, part of nationwide strike against President Emmanuel Macron’s labor reforms. The reforms especially affect public sector workers, and over 200,000 hit the streets across the country.
On Tuesday, French public sector unions called on some five million civil servants to join in over 130 planned marches against Macron’s labor reforms. The protesters opposed axing civil service jobs, salary freezes and stricter sick-leave rules.
In Paris over 25,000 thousand marched through the city, according to police estimates. However, one of the trade unions taking part on the strike, the CGT, said that twice that number were in attendance, AP reports.
While the rally started peacefully, some people smashed windows and painted walls and eventually started clashing with police.
Around 209,000 joined the demonstrations across France, the Interior Ministry said. That figure is around half that given by the unions, who say that some 400,000 people took part in the rallies nationwide. The strike disrupted schools, hospitals and air traffic across France.
RT’s Charlotte Dubenskij talked to some of the demonstrators in Paris about what made them take to the streets and how they treat their leader.
Locals told RT that they were rallying to defend “the foundations of the state – hospitals, police, national education.”
We manifest to defend the rights of workers, because their salaries not only did not grow, but became lower in past 15 years,” one protester told RT, adding that the government wants to cap the growth of salaries again, but fails to compensate people.
Some blame Macron for violating public workers’ rights and failing to protect those who need it.
“At the moment Macron is the president for the rich. The rights of public workers are violated, not protected at all,” a woman said.
“Judging by the measures he took, he is concerned about the rich, but not the most fragile part of the population. We would like to have a balance, to have social equity,” a man said. He also noted that people want Macron to stick to his promises, “but so far he has not kept his word to the public sector.”
Another woman told RT that she is outraged with Macron’s government and the public sector cuts.
“For example I did not expect that he would cut the number of supported employees – around 100 people from libraries and several other services were repaid. And this is really a degradation of working conditions, and things that helped many people to live,” she said.