France sees protest on climate inaction
Three weeks into a refinery strike that has caused fuel shortages across the country, tens of thousands of protesters marched in Paris on Sunday, adding to a growing picture of defiance and anger about inflation. The demonstration against the rising cost of living on Sunday was called by the left-wing political opposition and led by the head of the France Unbowed party, Jean-Luc Melenchon.
Some protesters wore yellow florescent vests, the symbol of often violent anti-government protests in 2018 which shook the pro-business centrist government of President Emmanuel Macron. "We're going to have a week the likes of which we don't see very often," Mr. Melenchon said Sunday while speaking on a truck in the middle of the crowd. Organisers claimed 1,40,000 people attended Sunday's march against the rising cost of living and alleged government inaction against climate change. "We need to find a route between the need for reforms and the fact that people are riled up and tired." 'Unacceptable' Four of France's seven refineries - all belonging to Paris-based energy group TotalEnergies - remained blocked on Sunday.
Budget Minister Gabriel Attal denounced the continuation of the strike on Sunday as "Unacceptable", while business lobby group Medef said "150 people" were "Taking the country hostage." "Of course there's a right to strike, but at some point the country needs to be able to work," Attal told French media. Staff at two other refineries owned by the U.S. group Esso-ExxonMobil returned to work at the end of last week, but operations there will need at least a fortnight to return to normal, the company said. Sunday's protest march through Paris was called by Mr. Melenchon's party and is backed by its coalition allies - the Greens, Socialists and Communists. A police source said there were fears that anarchist groups would be present, which could lead to clashes that regularly mar French protests.