Six French theatres occupied as pay protest spreads

27th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

Entertainment workers were occupying six theatres across France Wednesday as protests grew against a bid to cut their pay.

Protesting actors and technicians took over part of the Comedie Francaise in Paris Tuesday, forcing the management to cancel performances on France's most hallowed stage.

And the curtain also stayed down on the hit production of "Phaedra" starring Isabelle Huppert at the Odeon theatre in the city's Left Bank, which has been occupied since the weekend.

The latest flare-up in the long-running row was sparked by riot police clearing hundreds of demonstrators from the square in front of the Odeon on Monday.

But several dozen remain inside the building, a hugely symbolic venue which was also occupied by students during France's May 1968 protests.

Protesters have also taken over parts of major regional theatres in Lille, Bordeaux, Montpellier and Caen, and briefly staged a symbolic protest on Tuesday night in Strasbourg without disrupting performances.

There were a series of similar short-lived occupations last week across France by "intermittents" -- artists and culture workers who benefit from a generous unemployment system to compensate for their erratic incomes.

Employers last month agreed cuts of 185 million euros ($208 million) to a national pay fund with three of the smaller unions in the sector, but most "intermittents" are fiercely resisting the change.

But with long-running talks over their pay and status in deadlock, protests have grown more radical.

© 2016 AFP

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