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  • French civil servants and students carry labour union flags and banners as they march in protest during a national day of strikes by public sector workers.

    French civil servants and students carry labour union flags and banners as they march in protest during a national day of strikes by public sector workers. | Photo: Reuters

  • "We

    "We're demonstrating in defense of a public service that is there to serve everyone, wherever in the country they live," Philippe Martinez, head of the Communist-linked CGT union, told RTL radio. | Photo: Reuters

  • A French sanitation and sewer worker marches in protest during a national day of strikes by public sector workers in Lyon, France

    A French sanitation and sewer worker marches in protest during a national day of strikes by public sector workers in Lyon, France | Photo: Reuters

  • It is the third time that labor unions have sought to stage a nationwide show of strength in such a way since Macron began his five-year term in May 2017.

    It is the third time that labor unions have sought to stage a nationwide show of strength in such a way since Macron began his five-year term in May 2017. | Photo: Reuters

  • "Public Service, My Love," reads a banner during a march by public sector workers in Paris

    "Public Service, My Love," reads a banner during a march by public sector workers in Paris | Photo: Reuters

  • French riot police apprehend a masked and hooded protester after clashes at a demonstration during a national day of strikes by public sector workers in Paris

    French riot police apprehend a masked and hooded protester after clashes at a demonstration during a national day of strikes by public sector workers in Paris | Photo: Reuters

  • A French civil servant wears a CGT labour union sticker during a national day of strikes by public sector workers in Marseille

    A French civil servant wears a CGT labour union sticker during a national day of strikes by public sector workers in Marseille | Photo: Reuters

  • A protester holds a safety flare during the demonstration for a national day of strikes by public sector workers in Paris

    A protester holds a safety flare during the demonstration for a national day of strikes by public sector workers in Paris | Photo: Reuters

Published 22 May 2018

Postal workers, air traffic controllers, state teachers and public administration workers were urged to join marches across France.

French police and protesters clashed in Paris on Tuesday after unions – angered by years of public-sector pay cuts and President Emmanuel Macron's economic reforms – urged state employees to stop work and join nationwide street protests.

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Riot police charged at protesters with batons in central Paris, firing stun grenades and tear gas. Police said 20 demonstrators were arrested.

About 15,000 people demonstrated, compared with 49,000 during a similar protest in March, authorities said. But union officials say the strike wave, unlike pre-Macron versions that successfully torpedoed attempts to liberalize the economy, appears to be losing steam with workers increasingly doubting they can force the government to change course.

Tuesday's call came from the large labor unions plus many smaller ones and involved the organization of street rallies in about 140 cities, towns and villages across France.

Postal workers, air traffic controllers, state teachers and public administration workers were urged to join marches to denounce what the unions say is an erosion of spending power and public services under Macron.

French electricity grid operator RTE said the strike reduced nuclear electricity generation by 2 gigawatts as several nuclear reactors operated by state-controlled utility EDF were forced to cut production.

A spokeswoman for French EDF said around 15.5 percent of the company's staff participated in the strike.


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