French workers protest job cuts amid COVID-19 pandemic

Thousands showed up across France for union-organised protests against job cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

They come after tyre and rubber company Bridgestone announced plans to close a factory in northern France, a decision that puts more than 800 jobs at risk.

There have been thousands of job cuts in multiple French companies including Airbus, Renault and Sanofi due to economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Auchan, a supermarket chain, recently announced plans to cut nearly 1500 jobs despite being open for the duration of France’s strict lockdown, unions say.

France’s national statistics institute has said the unemployment level will likely climb to 9.5% by the end of 2020.

French unions, including the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), have called for protests, stating that government policies primarily help companies and do not adequately protect workers.


Unions have also criticised plans to reform pensions and unemployment.

“Despite the explosion in unemployment, the government refuses to abandon its reform of unemployment insurance,” the CGT union said in a statement.

They added: “It changes the rules for calculating compensation, leading to an average decrease in compensation of 22%, which will plunge thousands of people deprived of employment and precarious workers in poverty.”

Masked protesters demonstrated on Thursday in Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lyon and Saint Etienne and protests are expected to continue today.

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