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What the papers said 1 May 2018

rfi English, May 1

Unions braced for May Day showdown with the government over President Emmanuel Macron's vast reform agenda.

It was May Day and the papers were betting on very tense marches by workers across the country. This is in the wake of the on-going industrial action by railway workers opposed to a reform of the state-owned railway company SNCF.

Commentators expect public workers, Air France staff, university students and pensioners to the swell the ranks to vent their anger over pay demands and a perceived drop in their purchasing power.

According to Le Parisien, the traditional May Day parade in Paris will be held under tight police surveillance. This follows calls by the hardline General Workers' Confederation for a massive demonstration of strength and solidarity by the unions when the marches gets underway from the Place de la Bastille to la Place d’Italie this afternoon.

As the publication explains, the authorities are reportedly expecting trouble from anti-capitalists, fascists and other extremist groups which used Facebook to mobilize their members to come out in numbers promising President Emmanuel Macron and his world a "day in hell".

L'Humanité speaks to Philippe Martinez the feared leader of the powerful CGT Union. He appeals to everyone who cannot take part in the rolling three-month strike launched 27 days ago to come out and demonstrate this May Day.

According to the Communist daily, Martinez refuses to give up on his hopes for a unified parade despite the objection of a common march by the leftist Forces Ouvrières and the moderate CFDT.

L'Humanité reports that Martinez continued to denounce what he described as the government's attempt to force the SNCF reform down the throats of workers vowing to pursue the strike, after May Day whatever happens.

The Communist daily picked its front page caption from a Martinez quote. No government is capable of resisting a large movement of hard-toiling workers, he concluded.

Le Monde dissects France's rail transport sector.  Macron is seeking to revamp the giant with clay feet crippled by a debt burden of 46.6 billion euros, with the deficit growing by 3 billion per year, according to the paper.

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