French Labor Unions, Far-Left Groups Demonstrate Against Macron

(Bloomberg) -- French groups opposed to President Emmanuel Macron, including labor unions and anti-capitalist political parties, have called for demonstrations on Saturday across the country to protest against his reforms.

The protests are uniting the far-left France Unbowed, the Communist Party and the CGT labor union. Almost half the French people oppose this new day of demonstrations -- 49 percent are against it and 40 percent support it, according to a Viavoice survey for Le Figaro daily released on May 22.

Macron’s policies to transform France’s economy -- including grooming the SNCF state-ran rail system for competition, lowering housing benefits, making unemployment benefits harder to keep and, by the end of the year, start revising the pension system -- are infuriating leftists groups.

The planned demonstrations come as the French have been hit by rolling strikes at SNCF and have had to rework their daily commutes and high-speed trains travels. The on-again-off-again strike at the rail service entered its seventh week, but the absence of massive street protests so far have emboldened the government to press ahead.

More Cuts

A French official in the president’s office said the protests groups’ interests aren’t converging and that the government will maintain its plans.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Friday the French state will take over a substantial share of the railway system’s debt to help SNCF in its transition to face more competition. The gesture to appease the railway workers left them unmoved and they plan to keep up their movement neverthelss.

The official close the president, who spoke to reporters in Paris on Friday, hinted that Macron plans more cuts to social benefits in the next budget bill. He added that the 40-year-old leader’s vision was to wean the French people off benefits and help them get jobs. The official declined to be named according to the Elysee presidential palace ground rules.

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