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Hundreds of thousands march against Macron's reforms

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Staff Writer | March 23, 2018
Hundreds of thousands of civil servants stopped working to show their anger at French President Emmanuel Macron's reforms, which he said were necessary to restore France's power at home and abroad.
march against Macron
France   180 rallies nationwide
The country's main trade unions call for people to take to the streets resulted in roughly 180 rallies nationwide at which 400,000 people gathered, according to CGT (General Confederation of Labor) union. The Interior Ministry put the turnout at 323,000.

In Paris, the demonstration by public service workers and train drivers attracted 75,000 protesters, unions said, while police data showed that number to be 49,000.

Violence erupted between police and hundreds of young protesters in the demonstration in the capital where security forces fired tear gas and water cannons. Three people were arrested, according to police.

Marches reduced the train service to four out of ten high-speed trains in operation. Half of the regional trains were operational.

The social movement also forced the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC) air transport body to cut 30 percent of its flight services to and from Orly, Charles-de-Gaulles and Beauvais airports.

The education ministry said many primary schools were closed on Thursday as teachers also joined the strike.

Furthermore, power generation fell by more than three gigawatts, the equivalent of three nuclear reactors, due to energy sector workers responding to the strike call.

Public sector workers are angry about plans to slash 120,000 civil servant jobs within five years and expand the use of short-term contracts.

While rail workers are opposing a government proposal to revamp the state-run rail operator SNCF that includes ending rail workers' special status, which allows them to retire with a full pension at 52, a decade before other French employees.

In a show of force, trade unions planned rolling strikes by stopping work two out of every five days over a three-month period from April 3.

An Odoxa poll released on Wednesday showed a majority of voters backed the strike.