French government hopes for the best but fears the worst amid growing social unrest

Élysée et gouvernement

President Emmanuel Macron's government is facing a potentially difficult week, haunted by the fear that the ongoing petrol crisis could lead to a wider social crisis. On Sunday the leftwing opposition staged a protest against the cost of living. Then on Tuesday a number of trade unions have called a day of national strikes over pay and the right to take industrial action. Ilyes Ramdani takes the temperature ahead of what could be a tumultuous few days in French politics.

CGT shuns TotalEnergies talks as French petrol crisis drags on

France — Link

Despite the government requisitioning key refinery staff to get petrol flowing again, nearly a third of gas stations still have supply problems.

Marches held across France for pay rises and against pension reform

France — Link

A nationwide day of action called by one of France's major cross-trades unions, the CGT, in support of pay rises and against President Emmanuel Macron's announced plan to raise the retirement age on full benefits from 62 to 65, drew a turnout of 250,000 marchers according to organisers, and around half of that total according to the interior ministry.

How people power during a bin strike helped end a union's dominance in Marseille


A 16-day strike by refuse collectors has just come to an end in the southern French city of Marseille. It was the third such stoppage there in three months and on the surface it was yet another routine dispute involving municipal staff in a city that is no stranger to industrial strife. But in reality the deal struck between the local authority and union officials, which came amid growing anger from local residents at the state of the Mediterranean city's streets, has ended an unwritten and cosy arrangement between City Hall and a favoured trade union that stretches back more than seven decades. Some observers have described the outcome as no less than a “revolution”. Olivier Bertrand explains.

The fear and rising anger of French job centre staff after colleague was shot dead

France — Report

On Thursday January 28th a supervisor at a Pôle Emploi employment centre in south-east France was shot dead, sending a shock wave of alarm through all branches of the government agency. Staff had already seen growing violence and tension in their branches from disgruntled job seekers, a discontent that has been further fuelled by the Covid-19 crisis and its impact on the economy. As Cécile Hautefeuille found out, fear among job centre staff is now rapidly turning to anger.

Union boss warns Macron's pension reforms 'playing with fire'

France — Link

In an interview with The Guardian, Philippe Martinez, head of one of France's biggest cross-trades unions and which has spearheaded the opposition to Emmanuel Macron's plans to reform the pension scheme, said the French president 'is so sure of himself, but he’s playing with fire', warning that the 'rancour' created by the reforms will be paid by the government 'one day or another'.   

President Macron sets political trap for France's railway workers

France — Analysis

A government-commissioned report on France's railway sector has put reform of the employment status and supposedly “exorbitant privileges” of the country's railway workers firmly at the centre of the political agenda. These changes would themselves save around 100 million to 150 million euros in savings over ten years – a modest amount compared with the massive debts of the train operator SNCF. But as Martine Orange reports, the French presidency's real aim is to win a political battle by getting pubic opinion on its side.

Angry French food couriers deliver protest at pay change


The meal delivery company Deliveroo, which uses 7,500 couriers across France, is ending its system of paying its riders by the hour. This has led to protests from many of the food couriers who say they will end up earning hundreds of euros a month less. As Dan Israel reports, the move also shines a light on the precarious livelihoods of those working in this and other sections of the 'gig' economy.

The duty to protest

France — Opinion

Last week the French authorities banned a planned march in Paris by trade unions opposed to labour law reforms, before eventually backing down partially and allowing a more limited demonstration. Here Mediapart's editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel argues that demonstrating is a constitutional right and that, by banning the march that the trade unions wanted, the government violated the fundamental law that guarantees all our freedoms. It is, he writes, our duty to resist this unlawful act in order to defend our common ideal: democracy.

Fresh protests across France against labour reforms

France — Link

Police put the turnout for the peaceful march - initially banned by the authorities - at up to 20,000 while unions said figure was closer to 60,000.

France labour dispute: now ban on Paris protest is 'lifted'

France — Link

CGT union boss said authorities' U-turn on march was a 'victory for democracy' and urged workers to turn out in 'massive' numbers on Thursday.

French authorities ban labour protest march in Paris

France — Link

Move by Paris police to ban Thursday's march could increases tension between socialist government and unions opposed to labour reforms.

French unions to defy government ban on labour protest march

France — Link

Authorities had asked unions to scrap plans for Paris march in favour of a static rally to avoid violence which marred previous protests.

Rubbish piles up in Paris as binmen join anti-labour law reform protests

France — Link

Blockades at waste collection centres are preventing rubbish collection in the capital and other cities, while strikes are also disrupting rail services.

Blockades are a 'weapon to make people aware' say French labour law protesters

France — Report

Amid blockades of oil depots and strikes in a number of key sectors in France, opponents against planned labour law reforms in France took to the streets again on Thursday May 26th. Mediapart spoke to people taking part in a march in the city of Montpellier, in the south of France, to find out why they are protesting. The demonstrators say they fully back the strikes and blockades which they see as their equivalent of article 49-3 of the French Constitution which is being used to force the deeply-controversial reforms through Parliament. Timothée Aldebert reports.