PARIS, Oct 16 (Reuters) – Thousands of people took to the streets of Paris on Sunday to protest against soaring prices as weeks of strikes for higher wages at oil refineries spurred demands for a general strike.
The leader of hard-left party La France Insoumise (France Unbowed), Jean-Luc Melenchon, marched alongside this year’s Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Annie Ernaux. He called a general strike for Tuesday.
“You’re going to live a week like no other, we are the ones who started it with this march,” he told the crowd.
Melenchon followed the footsteps of four unions – but not France’s biggest, the moderate CFDT – which have called for strikes and protests on Tuesday for wage increases.
The four unions also called the protests to help protect the right to strike, after the government ordered the requisitioning of some oil refinery workers, a move seen by unions as a violation of their constitutional rights.
The march followed a call by the NUPES parliamentary coalition, which hopes to turn the page on domestic violence accusations that have recently dogged senior members.
Budget Minister Gabriel Attal said the left-wing coalition was attempting to exploit the current situation, marked by ongoing strikes at French utility EDF’s nuclear plants and at French oil refineries.
“Today’s march is a march of supporters who want to block the country,” he said on French radio station Europe 1.
(Reporting by Lucient Libert and Stépahne Mahe; Additional reporting by Bertrand Boucey; Writing by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Nick Macfie)