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Macron reforms unleash mass strikes, protests

An estimated 200,000 protesters took to the streets of France on Thursday in a showdown between trade unions and President Emmanuel Macron that could be decisive for his reform agenda. Seven unions representing staff in the public sector led strikes and protests on Thursday, and a third of railway workers walked out to join the demonstrations against 40-year-old Macron’s bid to shake up the French state. Around 198,000 people demonstrated nationwide, according to police figures, including 49,000 in Paris. The CGT union, the biggest in the public sector, estimated the total turnout at over half a million. Less than half of the country’s high-speed TGV trains were running and flights, schools, daycare centres, libraries and other public services such as garbage collection were also affected. Police fired teargas and water cannon in central Paris during sporadic clashes between security forces and groups of youths which appeared to have been infiltrated by masked, far-left anarchists.

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