Chris Den Hond
Press TV, Paris
Over 300 marches took place and hundreds of thousands demonstrated all over France for May Day to claim more rights for the workers.
The Covid crisis is hitting the French economy very hard, but not everybody is equally affected by the crisis. The 40 biggest French companies are doing very well despite the Covid crisis, but they prefer to pay benefits for their shareholders, rather than improving working conditions. So the main concern for French trade unions now is to save jobs and to stop companies from firing workers.
The Covid crisis has highlighted the importance of ordinary workers for the French economy: garbage collectors, railway workers, supermarket cashiers, mostly women, home care workers, delivery drivers, and of course hospital workers. Their work is now widely considered as essential to keep the economy running. French president Macron promised to reevaluate their jobs.
The demonstration in Paris was closely monitored by the police. Clashes broke out when more radical demonstrators threw stones and bottles to the police officers who charged and fired teargas. There is a lot of frustration among working people. Many blame the French authorities for its disengagement from the public sector, especially the hospital sector, which is crucial to get the coronavirus under control.
The anger is still growing among working people. Those at the frontline against the coronavirus demand a permanent upgrade of their jobs: salary and working conditions. But the French government, till now, has only payed them bonuses once.