On International Workers' Day, French rally against reforms in unemployment benefits

France is used to traditional May Day demonstrations. But this year, the protests were especially peculiar. On International Workers’ Day, French citizens marched the streets against the government’s plans to modify unemployment benefits in the country.

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At least 300 rallies

About 300 rallies were organised in Paris and other cities including Lyon, Nantes, Lille and Toulouse. In the French capital, trade unionists were joined by members of the "Yellow Vest" movement that triggered a wave of anti-government protests three years ago and by workers from sectors hit hard by pandemic restrictions.


‘We want to live, not survive’

Marchers, most wearing masks in line with COVID-19 rules, carried banners reading: "Dividends, not unemployment benefits are the income of lazy people" and "We want to live, not survive".


Demonstrations remain mostly peaceful

Most demonstrations were peaceful, although Lyon police scattered a group of about 200 people who were throwing fireworks. Seventeen people were arrested in Paris, where 5,000 police have been deployed, the Paris Prefecture de Police told Reuters.


Clashes with police

A few hooded, black-clad demonstrators clashed with police or threw stones and garbage bins. Police said they had prevented 'Black Bloc' anarchists from forming a group.


France plans to wind down Covid lockdown

France, which has the world's eighth-highest tally of coronavirus deaths, will start unwinding its third pandemic lockdown from Monday after a fall in infection rates.


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