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French students and unions plan further labour reform protests

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French students and unions plan further labour reform protests



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After Thursday’s day of protest (March 31) in cities across France, high school students and workers spent the night camped out at the Place de la Republique in Paris.

The protesters are angry about plans to make it easier for companies to fire workers.

“It’s absurd, simple as that,” said high school student Mathieu. “The blockade is a demonstration of force, and shows we’re here and we’re young and we’re sick of this. This law is so absurd, and it was created by Socialist politicians. Three years ago people voted for the Socialists to take office, today we’re blockading, this is a right-wing law that’s in favour of the [employers’ union] MEDEF. It’s ridiculous.”

A clause capping payouts to workers for unfair dismissals has been removed, but MEDEF wants it back.

The hardline CGT union said the protests would continue until the reforms are completely withdrawn.

“The ordinary workers are treated like shit, we’ve had enough under Hollande who is supposed to represent the left,” said protester Jean-Luc Gutel. “The future for youth, when you see our youth in universities sometimes having to sit on the floor, it’s not ok. Even my dog has a blanket to lie on. The youth are told to study for years but what for if it’s to end up unemployed.”

Critics say the draft reforms would lead to worse working conditions and more sackings.

The proposed changes to France’s labour code are due to be debated in parliament next week.

Further protests are planned for Tuesday and Saturday next week.


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