France: business strikes back

France: business strikes back
By Catherine Hardy
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The atmosphere was tense between Philippe Martinez and protesters, who say their businesses are suffering because of strikes.

  • CGT boss says he has spoken to PM
  • Angry protesters mob Martinez
  • Sue and counter-sue between unions ### “It’s better when we talk”

The General Secretary of France’s CGT union says he has had an approach from the government over stalled talks on employment law reform.

Philippe Martinez made the comments during a visit to the town of Fougeres.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the boss of the CGT on Saturday, for the first time in several weeks, it is claimed.

“There has been no contact for three months, not a thing, and then Saturday there was a call from the Prime Minister,” Philippe Martinez told reporters. “When we talk, it is better than when we say ‘my door is open but we are not discussing anything’.”

Did Valls back down over the law?


The Prime Minister is maintaining his position on the plan for reform.

Giving in would be a “political mistake,” Valls said, adding that he is determined to “stick with the terms of the text.”

Angry businesses

In the picturesque Brittany town of Fougeres, the CGT boss was confronted by a group of small business owners protesting about the strike.

Le patron de la CGT Philippe Martinez chahuté lors de sa visite à Fougères

— L'Express (@LEXPRESS) May 31, 2016

The atmosphere was tense between Philippe Martinez and the protesters, who say their businesses are suffering as a result of the strikes called by the CGT that are threatening to paralyse the country.

They were brandishing banners bearing comments like:

  • “The CGT is a hooligan destroying our jobs”
  • “Businesses without fuel, workers without jobs”
  • “The CGT is killing our businesses”
  • “The CGT is killing our businesses, we have had enough.”

Tense discussions followed between Martinez, CGT supporters and the protesters.

After some minor scuffles, Martinez went on his way.

“The CGT is killing our businesses”

Another group of around 70 businesspeople were waiting for Philippe Martinez in the town of Noyal-Châtillon-sur-Seiche near Rennes.

.TVR35</a> <a href="">#rennes</a> <a href="">#noyal</a> Châtillon une délégation patronale locale à la rencontre de Philippe <a href="">#Martinez</a> <a href="">#CGT</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; philippe berthou (philippebertho1) May 31, 2016

They want the CGT to find another way of fighting for workers’ rights apart from blockading oil refineries and public transport.

They say both they and their businesses are being held hostage.

Sue and counter-sue

Loi Travail : Gattaz invite les entreprises bloquées à porter plainte

— l'Opinion (@Lopinion_fr) May 31, 2016

The boss of employers’ federation MEDEF has urged business owners to sue the CGT for loss of revenue.

Philippe Martinez (#CGT) annonce vouloir porter plainte en diffamation contre le président du #Medef Pierre Gattaz

— iTELE (@itele) May 31, 2016

The CGT says it will counter-sue MEDEF for defamation.

“It is outrageous that there is such venom against a union,” said Philippe Martinez, “and Mr Gattaz must bear some responsibility for that as well, with his remarks yesterday, talking in terms of terrorism in a country that has been through what it has is absolutely scandalous.”

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