May 26, 2016
France paralysed by radicalising protests over labour laws
The standoff between one trade union, the CGT, and the French government over the labour reform law is escalating after eight days of nationwide protests. The union blocked the printing of today’s newspapers for those who refused to publish the CGT’s appeal to the government to stop the labour reform law. The online versions of the newspapers this morning had pictures of violent clashes at oil refineries and outraged editorials from Nicolas Beytout among others. The news about the fall in unemployment rates was buried.
Over the last couple of days, the strike has gradually spread across France's fuel infrastructure, hitting oil refineries, fuel depots and petrol stations. An estimated 20% of petrol stations have either run dry or are low on supplies. The trade unionists also did not exclude any action on the UEFA Euro football tournament, starting in France on June 10.
Francois Hollande and Manuel Valls both categorically reject any concessions over the El Khomri labour law. They say the CGT closed the door to further negotiations with its violent actions. But the Socialist MPs are less steadfast in their refusal, talking about another round of dialogue instead. Who needs party rebels if Hollande’s own supporters pour oil into the fire, wonders Cécile Cornudet.