Mass protests against Macron as opponents join forces

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron faced mass protests on Thursday as trade unionists seek to galvanise angry students, public sector workers and striking train drivers into a joint movement against his multi-pronged drive to overhaul the French economy.
The hardline CGT union has urged the broad spectrum of groups opposed to Macron’s overhauls to come together on the streets, with some left-wingers dreaming of a re-run of the huge May 1968 demonstrations that shook France half a century ago.
Pressure has been mounting on Macron nearly a year since the 40-year-old centrist swept to power, with a survey by Ifop-Fiducial released on Wednesday suggesting that 58 per cent of voters were unhappy with his presidency.
But unions have also struggled to muster public support for their opposition movements, in particular the strikes aimed at torpedoing the emblematic overhaul of the state rail operator SNCF.
“They are in the street because they don’t want anything to change,” Macron said during a trip on Wednesday to the eastern town of Saint-Die-des-Vosges, where he was booed by trade unionists.
Macron’s leftwing critics accuse the business-friendly former investment banker of seeking to take a sledgehammer to public services, citing his pledge to cut 120,000 public-sector jobs over his five-year term.
Various groups have staged strikes and demonstrations against Macron over the past year, including a series of mass protests that have drawn hundreds of thousands onto the streets.
Thursday saw an attempt at a joint show of force by anti-Macron groups, including students angered by plans to make university admissions more selective. — AFP