Macron facing big day of protests over reforms
AP, , Thursday 19 Apr 2018
Thousands of people marched across France Thursday to protest French President Emmanuel Macron's labor law changes, as rail strikes and student protests continued to shake the country.


Thousands of people marched across France Thursday to protest French President Emmanuel Macron's labor law changes, as rail strikes and student protests continued to shake the country.

Rail workers this week resumed their rolling strike aimed at fighting Macron's plans to revamp the national railway company SNCF and open the train network to competition. Meanwhile, students continue to occupy campuses across France to protest university admission reforms that they fear threaten university access for high school graduates.

The demonstrations broadened Thursday as scores of government-employed staff and workers from other sectors joined SNCF workers after unions increased pressure on the government by urging workers from all sectors to unite in a show of force.

Thousands took to the streets in the southern city of Marseille, while several other demonstrations were scheduled in cities across France, including a march through Paris.

Macron's presidency is being challenged on multiple fronts, but the centrist president has repeatedly said he won't cave in under pressure, arguing that he was elected president last year to reform the country.

Unions at SNCF announced they have suspended discussions with Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne. They are now pushing for a meeting with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

The unions are protesting Macron's plans to revoke a special status that allows rail drivers to retain jobs and other benefits for life.

France has been rocked by a slew of protests this spring, prompted by other government plans to tax retirees more, cut jobs in some hospitals and reorganize the justice system.

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