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France: Public workers stage nationwide strike against Macron's labor reforms

Nine public sector unions are engaged in a one-day strike to protest Emmanuel Macron's labor reforms. Schools, hospitals and transport are being affected.

French civil servants are on strike today in a bid to put pressure on President Emmanuel Macron's cost cutting plans in the public sector.

Nine public sector unions representing more than five million workers called the nationwide strikes and demonstrations against Macron's plans to cut 120,000 civil service jobs, freeze pay, alter sick leave policy and cut social employment schemes.

Read: What are French President Emmanuel Macron's labor reforms? 

Schools, hospitals, government offices, trains and air transport are all being impacted by the strikes, the first in a decade joined by all public sector unions.

Thirty percent of flights across the country were cancelled, although Air France said it would run all long-distance flights to and from Paris' airports.

The education ministry said 17 percent of teachers went on strike. 

The strike is the fourth seeking to get Macron to roll back his pro-business reform plans, which are aimed at reducing stubbornly high unemployment and kickstarting the economy. 

Watch video 01:35

French labor reforms tackle unemployment

But previous one-day strikes called last month by the CGT union and the left-wing France Unbowed party had limited impact. Those strikes failed to clinch the support of other unions, which said they were willing to negotiate with the president over labor reforms.

Macron's reforms will enable employers to hire and fire workers more easily, as well as set new conditions for companies to negotiate directly with employees over working conditions.

Macron saw his poll numbers drop to nearly 30 percent this summer, but they have since risen slightly.  He has vowed to press on with his labor reform agenda. 

Watch video 05:01

Macron lays out his vision for EU reforms: DW's Catherine Martens from Paris

cw/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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