Majority of French now oppose prolonged labor reform protests

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 05, 2016 12:15 PM

PARIS (Reuters) - A majority of French people now oppose the wave of nationwide protests against planned government labor reforms that has disrupted fuel supplies and transport services in recent weeks, a poll showed on Sunday.

The BVA poll of 1,172 people showed, however, that many are still against the reforms which unions say will strip workers of their rights. A similar poll a month ago showed that a slim majority backed the protests.

After more than three months of tense talks, often violent street protests, and waves of strikes in the transport and energy industries, the Socialist government is under pressure to find a solution before the Euro 2016 kick-off on June 10.

"Days before the start of the Euro football tournament, while no solution to the social crisis is in sight, the support for the protest movement against the labor reform is dwindling," Agnes Balle of BVA Opinion said.

The survey carried out on June 2 and 3 showed that 54 percent of French people interviewed were against the protests. The same number backed the protests in May. Only 45 percent currently support the protest movement, BVA said.

The poll showed that 29 percent want the government to maintain the bill which aims to make hiring and firing easier, in an attempt to get stubbornly high unemployment falling, with presidential elections a year away.

The same percentage want the bill be withdrawn, while 41 percent want the government to negotiate.

Unions, teachers, students and youth groups led the initial strikes and protests in March and April against the labor law changes, but opposition was faltering until the government began the process of forcing the bill through the lower house of parliament.

Strikes in the energy and transport sector over the past two weeks led by the hardline CGT and FO trade unions gave the protests new impetus.

(Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Andrew Bolton)