Millions of public sector workers in France are participating in a one-day strike on October 10, 2017. This demonstration has closed schools, disrupted train services and around a third of flights for the day have been canceled. But, why are they protesting?
Nine of the country’s public sector unions worked together to organize the nationwide strike. Working together these unions are showing solidarity against the job cuts and pay freezes President Emmanuel Macron is working towards. These nine unions represent 5.4 million public sector workers and are sending a message of “profound disagreement” of President Macron’s plans, reports BBC.
President Macron and the French government plan to cut 120,000 public sector jobs in France over the next five years. This and an overhaul of France’s labor laws hope to make it easier for bosses to hire and fire their employees, which French workers are not too happy about.
These new rules will cap payouts to employees who were wrongly fired. This cap will be limited to three months’ pay for two years of work and 20 months’ pay for 20 years of work.
Businesses also will be able to make a deal with the majority of their employees on hours and pay that would trump any agreement in the industry. Companies with less than 50 employees will be able to set up workers’ committees which bypass unions.
Public-sector strikes across France put pressure on Macron pic.twitter.com/GVoQn1D3GC
— AFP news agency (@AFP) October 10, 2017
President Macron has vowed to cut unemployment to 7 percent by 2022. Currently, France has an unemployment rate of 9.5%, reports the BBC. That is double any other major European country’s economy. But the question arises, how are these labor reforms going to help unemployment? And this is why people are protesting.
It has been a while since the United States has seen nationwide labor protests. However, the US is no stranger to this scale of protesting. Between the Black Lives Matter Movement to the recent KKK Marches, the US has been right with France on the idea of protesting to speak out.
It is interesting to see that the language of protest translates around the world and onto social media. These protests have gained attention across social media and have been picked up by even American news outlets as the story develops. While it has not gone viral, it’s still gaining a sizable following across the globe and continues to grow.