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France: Hundreds of essential workers march in Paris to demand better working conditions

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Hundreds of workers and members of labour unions organised a march in Paris on Thursday, to demand better working and wage conditions.

Essential retail workers, security guards, cleaning company employees, childcare workers and many more could be seen marching through the streets with signs and banners.

Participants demanded wage increases due to work strains caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“What is not bearable is not being recognised, being qualified as essential, but we are truly invisible with often deplorable working conditions, with employers who do not listen to us,” shared one of the protesters.

The march came one week after tens of thousands across France joined demonstrations organised by the CGT, FO, FSU and Solidaires union confederations.

SOT, Nicole, Employee and staff representative of Atalian Proprete (French): “What is not bearable is not being recognised, being qualified as essential, but we are truly invisible with often deplorable working conditions, with employers who do not listen to us.”

SOT, Mohamed, General secretary of the Cleanliness Union, CFDT (French): “[What is] unbearable is that these are employees who get up early in the morning, really, 05:00 or even 04:00 and come home at 22:00, and the salary is really miserable.”

SOT, Olivier, Slaughterhouse worker and CFDT Union delegate (French): “Since the beginning of COVID-19 we have been essential employees, they told us that we were used to feed France and that we had to go to work. We went to work, during the periods of lockdown we worked, the employees started working at 05:00, they came to work with fear in their stomachs because they did not know the epidemiological risk behind it. So we, employees, were essential, we had to work, and we made the effort, now we are waiting for the return, the response from our employers.”

SOT, Laurent Berger, General secretary of the CFDT Union (French): “I believe that companies have a responsibility to offer good wages to their employees and to distribute the wealth. The government has the responsibility to constrain the professional branches that receive public aid, the companies received aid during this period. Well, the government has a responsibility to compel companies to open wage negotiations.”

#France # Paris

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