French march in united May Day rallies

1st May 2009, Comments 0 comments

Eight main trade unions hold united instead of rival May Day rallies across the country for the first time since the end of WWII.

PARIS – Tens of thousands of protestors took to the streets across France Friday in May Day marches in a fresh show of force against President Nicolas Sarkozy's handling of the economic crisis.

In what unions predicted would be the biggest Labour Day turnout in decades, marchers paraded in the cities of Marseille, Bordeaux, Grenoble and elsewhere, with a massive Paris protest due to kick off at 1200 GMT.

"Work, not death," said a banner in Grenoble carried by workers from the German car parts maker Schaeffler, which is soon to close a plant in the area, as they marched behind colleagues carrying a coffin.

France's eight main trade unions have agreed to hold united rallies across the country – rather than hold rival May Day events – for the first time since the end of W II.

Around 300 rallies were due to be held nationwide after unions and the left-wing opposition called for the bank holiday to be turned into a "historic" protest to demand more help for workers and families hit by the slowdown.

The marches come against a backdrop of mounting social tensions, with workers angry over lay-offs staging a wave of ‘bossnappings’, and strikes hitting French factories, ports, universities and hospitals.

Unions and the opposition drew between 1.2 and three million people into the streets in protest at Sarkozy's economic policies on 19 March, and more than a million on 29 January.

AFP / Expatica

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