A woman died and more than 200 others were injured in France as an estimated 280,000 people joined the first day of nationwide roadblocks by a protest movement organised on social media and without apparent alliance to political parties, which began as a reaction against a tax hike on fuel costs but which has spread into a broader opposition to President Emmanuel Macron's economic policies, and notably standards of living for low-income earners.
A growing movement in France against fuel tax hikes and which claims no political alliances, plans a national day of action of road blocks across the country on Saturday as the protests widen to broader demands over diminishing purchasing power for people with modest incomes.
Turnout in nationwide street protests in France on Thursday against the government's programme of economic reforms, notably in the public sector and of the state-run railway system in particular, was significantly lower than a similar day of demonstrations in March, with police estimating around 110,000 people took part, while unions claimed the figure was 300,000.
After one year in office during which he has largely escaped any significant popular or political hostilities, French President Emmanuel Macron this month has seen a souring in public mood, his standing sliding in opinion polls amid a series of different social protests and strike action, all pointing to a new chapter of his five-year term in office.
As student protests and sit-ins gather momentum, railway services are disrupted with rolling strike action, and unrest simmers among healthcare staff and the legal professions, the May 1968 revolt that paralysed France and caused General de Gaulle to flee to Ireland was, say some observers, very different because it was inspired by hope and not the ambient pessimism of 2018.
French President Emmanuel Macron appeared in a lengthy interview on national television on Thursday, speaking from a school classroom in a village in north-west France, when he said that despite protests over his railways reforms, and also growing opposition to reforms of university selection procedures and the justice system, he and his government will stand firm with its policies 'because the world around us is speeding up, going through great changes, and because our country must be able to choose its destiny and live better'.
State sector employees, and notably railway workers, staged one-day strikes and demonstrations across France on Thursday in protest at planned government reforms that will see spending cuts and job reductions and which President Emmanuel Macron's government intends introducing by decree and without parliamentary debate.
Paris court rules against Apple in case against 'tax evasion' protestors acting in 'general interest'
At the end of a legal case brought by tech giant Apple against alter-globalisation organisation ATTAC, in which the tech giant sought a three-year ban on activists demonstrating in and outside its stores in France to highlight the firm’s tax-avoidance schemes, a Paris court has ruled in favour of ATTAC, describing its campaign as being in the “general interest”. Martine Orange reports.
In an extraordinary move, American tech giant Apple this week applied before a Paris court for a three-year ban to be imposed on alter-globalisation group ATTAC from continuing with its recent demonstrations at the company’s stores in France in a campaign to denounce its tax-dodging practices. Mediapart economics and business correspondent Martine Orange was in court to follow the hearing which, she reports here, has above all served to further tarnish the iPhone maker's image.
Care workers mounted nationwide protests on Tuesday complaining they are under increasing pressure to cut corners on feeding, cleaning and hygiene care for those living in France's 7,000 nursing homes, and denouncing a government reform of elderly care as further threatening jobs and the quality of services.
Violent clashes between prison guards and riot police erupted on Friday outside the vast Fleury-Mérogis prison near Paris on the fifth day of national industrial action by jail staff across France protesting at undermanning and security, as news emerged that inmates had attacked and wounded staff in a prison in Corsica.
Prison staff unions protesting against undermanning and insecurity in France's notoriously overpopulated jails vowed to continue with their blockades of penitentiaries, prompted by an attack by a prisoner that left three guards wounded last week, until their demands for improved working conditions are met.
Street protests organised by trades unions in cities and towns across France on Thursday against President Emmanuel Macron's social and economic policies, notably reform of labour laws, were reported to have drawn a lower turnout than in previous demonstrations in September, with police claiming that 8,000 demonstrators joined marches in Paris against union estimates of 40,000.
Feminist militants are planning a demonstration against a French cinema institution's tribute on Monday to the lifework of veteran film director Roman Polanski which they have described as 'an affront to all rape victims, and particularly Polanski’s victims' in a reference to US charges against him for raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and recent claims that he committed other sexual attacks.
Protest marches were held across major French towns and cities on Tuesday, joined by strike action notably among transport workers, in opposition to President Emmanuel Macron's business-friendly reforms to free-up the labour law, notably making it easier for firms to hire and fire, which are due to be implemented later this month.