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Thousands protest over salaries, Gaza at France May Day marches

Thousands protest over salaries, Gaza at France May Day marches
Source: Video Screenshot

Thousands marched at May Day protests across France on Wednesday, making demands ranging from better salaries to a ceasefire in Gaza, with minor skirmishes in some cities.

Turnout was much lower than last year when a large part of the country was up in arms over a deeply unpopular pensions reform that President Emmanuel Macron’s government had forced through parliament without a vote.

This year the demonstrations come after almost seven months of war in the besieged Palestinian territory of Gaza, with mediators pushing to get a truce between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.

At May Day protests across the country — including in Paris, Marseille, Toulouse, Lyon and Nantes — marchers sometimes held up Palestinian flags as well as their union banners.

“I’m here for the workers, it’s important to mobilise for our rights,” said a 27-year-old protester called Louise among the crowd in Paris, refusing to give her second name.

“But I’m also here to call out the terrible situation in Gaza and in Palestine,” she added.

The march in the capital set off early afternoon in a festive atmosphere, but law enforcement fired tear gas an hour later to deal with what a police source called a minority of “radical elements”.

An AFP journalist saw damage to several shopfronts and a bus stop. A van was partially burnt and some protesters lobbed stones or fireworks at police.

Some 25 people were arrested, the police said.

An AFP photographer also saw skirmishes in the western city of Nantes.

Ahead of European Parliament elections on June 9, the CFDT union had called for a day of protest to demand “a more ambitious Europe that better protects workers”.

Opinion polls for the EU contest suggest Macron’s centrist alliance Renaissance is lagging behind the far-right National Rally (RN) party.

Another protester in Paris, 59-year-old librarian Sylvie Demange, said she was “very worried” about the “rise of the far right”, “salary inequalities” and the government’s top-down decision making.

The CGT union said more than 200,000 people took to the street across France on Wednesday.

The interior ministry put the turnout across France at 121,000.

Last year, more than 800,000 took to the street across the country, according to the authorities. The CGT put turnout at 2.3 million

The latest Gaza war started after Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Palestinian militants also took some 250 hostages on October 7. Israel estimates 129 remain in Gaza, including 34 believed to be dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 34,568 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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