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Police, rail workers’ protests ground France

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Police, rail workers' protests ground France
Activities are currently crippled in France following rail strikes which according to reports is set to run until Friday morning, reducing high-speed and inter-city services by 40 to 50 per cent, while also heavily disrupting local and suburban commuter lines.
The strike is embarked upon by labour unions seeking to force President Francois Hollande’s government into retreat on labour law reforms. The labour action by French railway and port workers halved train services prompting cancellation of ferry links to Britain on Wednesday.
There are also planned demonstrations by police who are seeking to vent their frustration over the stresses produced by near daily clashes with gangs of violent youths on the fringes of the anti-reform movement.
Truckers maintained blockades set up on Tuesday in a bid to strangle deliveries in and out of out of the country and food distribution depots while Brittany Ferries announced mass cancellations of connections between Britain and northern France, where port workers joined the industrial action.

At issue is one of Hollande’s flagship reforms a year from a presidential election – law changes designed to make it easier for employers to hire and fire staff and to opt out of cumbersome national rules in favour of in-house accords on pay.

Hollande says the change will encourage firms to recruit and combat an unemployment rate that has remained above 10 percent.

The 61-year-old leader has said he will not consider running for re-election if he fails to make inroads against joblessness. Critics say the reform will totally undermine the standards of protection enshrined for decades in national labour law.

The plan, which pollsters say is opposed by three in four French people, has provoked weeks of often violent protests.

It has also increased pressure on police who were already stretched by extra duties following last November’s deadly militant Islamist attacks on France and are also gearing up for the Euro 2016 football tournament that kicks off on June 10.

Condemning what it described as mounting “anti-cop hatred”, the Alliance police union called for Wednesday’s rally in the Place de la Republique, a central Paris square that has seen regular skirmishes in past weeks between riot police and youths hurling petrol bombs and paving stones.

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