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France’s far left leads protests against Macron reforms

PARIS (Reuters): France’s main far left party, the hardline CGT trade union and some 80 other organisations, led several thousand people in street protests across France on Saturday against French President Emmanuel Macron’s reforms of the public sector.
Organisers hoped that the protests would grow further into a groundswell of support against Macron’s reform of France’s public service and some state enterprises such as the heavily indebted national railway company SNCF.
“We are going to carry a message (and) this message must be heard by the strong-headed Emmanuel Macron,” Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the far left France Unbowed party, told a cheering crowd before the protest set off in the southern port city of Marseille. Melenchon listed a number of grievances including staff shortages at hospitals, limited admissions at universities, and lack of police in tough neighbourhoods, because the government says it does not have the means to fund them. “We do not be-lieve you because you are ly-ing,” Melenchon said, adding that Macron’s government had given a 4.5 billion euros ($5.25 billion) tax break to the rich which could have been invested in hospitals. “The country is rich. The country must share,” Melenchon said.
In Paris, Police said some 30 people were arrested before the start of the march for various offences. Holding banners and chanting slogans, protesters are expected to hold rallies in at least 160 places across France, CGT Secretary General Philippe Martinez said.

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