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Varoufakis rallies anti labour reform protesters in Paris

Greece's far-left former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis (C) sits next to French Europe Ecologie Les Verts green party member Julien Bayou (L) as he joins the "Nuit Debout" (Up All Night) movement in Paris, on April 16, 2016
AFP

Paris (AFP) – Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis on Saturday addressed opponents of the French government’s workplace reforms at a protest in Paris, telling them the planned changes would “devalue labour”. 

“He (French President Francois Hollande) wants to devalue French labour… it can’t work,” Varoufakis told protesters as he paid a visit to the latest “Nuit Debout” (Up All Night) gathering at the city’s vast Place de la Republique.

“Devaluing French labour can only deepen the crisis… I’m bringing to you solidarity from Athens,” he told the crowd.

The labour reforms of France’s Socialist government aim to make it easier for struggling companies to fire people.

The government says they will make France’s rigid labour market more flexible but opponents say the reforms are too pro-business and will fail to reduce the 25-percent jobless rate among the young.

Hundreds, at times thousands, of people have been demonstrating every night for the past two weeks at the Place de la Republique in central Paris.

The labour reforms are a unifying theme of the gatherings but the so-called “Nuit Debout” movement is broader, embracing a range of anti-establishment grievances.

The nightly protests have been marred by sporadic violence. The latest clashes erupted late Friday when, according to police, some 100 protesters set rubbish on fire and threw bottles and stones at officers, who responded with tear gas. Twenty-two people were arrested.

The “Nuit Debout” demonstrations have spread to cities across France, becoming a major headache for the government.

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