Thousands of French workers from across the country are protesting against President Emmanuel Macron’s neoliberal labor reforms, which slash workplace protections and benefits.
Amassed in Parisian streets, protesters are waving flags, and are even dancing, to show their discontent for reforms that they say could eradicate local industries and replace them with foreign multinationals, according to the Associated Press.
“Everybody likes funfairs. Everybody has been to a funfair one time in his life. Funfair is France,” said Sam Frechon, a bumper car worker.
Mass protests are also taking place in Marseille, Le Havre and other French cities.
Speaking at the Eiffel Tower prior to the protests, General Confederation of Labor, CGT, union representative Denis Vavassori declared that workers would storm out of their jobs and take to the streets of Paris and elsewhere in France.
When Macron’s government announced labor reforms aimed at jeopardizing job security last month, the CGT, one of France’s largest labor unions, heeded the call as a challenge. They wasted no time in organizing hundreds of strikes and demonstrations across the country.
Macron added fuel to the fire last week when he theorized that those who challenged his labor reforms were “lazy.” Government spokesman Christophe Castaner tried to quell the inferno during an interview on RTL radio, explaining that the president didn’t mean workers were “lazy,” but that he was referring to politicians who did nothing to modernize the country’s labor laws for a “modern world.”
In August, the French parliament adopted a bill allowing the government to fast-track changes to the labor code. While it gives employers more power to negotiate workers’ conditions at a company level, rather than being bound by industry-wide agreements, employees can be dismissed more easily, without companies fearing prosecution at labor tribunals.
With nearly 3.5 million people out of work, former investment banker Macron claims the bill will give employers more incentives to hire workers if they can fire them without financial risk.