2 months ago

French farmers plan 'siege' of Paris demanding better pay, conditions

French farmers plan 'siege' of Paris demanding better pay, conditions
French farmers plan 'siege' of Paris demanding better pay, conditions


IIE Digital Desk: French farmers will launch an indefinite "siege" of Paris beginning Monday, choking off major highways and moving toward the capital as they demand better working conditions.

For days, nationwide protests have flared in Europe's largest agriculture producer, with farmers angered in part by red tape and environmental policies they say are hurting their bottom lines and rendering them unable to compete with less stringent neighbours.

Across France, farmers have used tractors and trucks to block roads and jam traffic. They plan to step up their pressure campaign by establishing eight chokepoints along the major arteries to Paris on Monday afternoon.

The government plans to mobilise 15,000 police and paramilitary gendarmes in response, with the forces told to show "moderation".

"We don’t intend to allow government buildings, or tax collection buildings, or grocery stores to be damaged or trucks transporting foreign produce to be stopped. Obviously, that is unacceptable," French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said ahead of the planned siege.

He said President Emmanuel Macron had instructed the security operation to ensure both Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport to the north and Orly to the south remain open, and the Rungis international wholesale food market south of Paris continues to operate.

Police and gendarmes are also under orders to prevent any incursion into Paris itself, said Darmanin.

The government has been trying to keep discontent among farmers from spreading ahead of European Parliament elections later this year, which are being seen as a key test for Macron's government.

During a visit to a farm on Sunday, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal scrambled to address farmers' concerns, after a raft of concessions announced Friday failed to defuse the crisis.

"I want us to clarify things and see what extra measures we can take" to meet farmers' complaints that they face unfair competition, he said.

Attal agreed it was not right that French farmers were forbidden by environmental regulations from using certain products that neighbouring countries, such as Italy, still had the right to use.

Farmers have described being "fed-up" with their conditions, including falling wages, low pensions and mountains of red tape.

Mona Lisa stunt

Two activists, on Sunday, hurled soup at the glass protecting the Mona Lisa painting at the Louvre Museum in a stunt to call attention to the agriculture industry.

"What is more important? Art or the right to healthy and sustainable food," the activists asked, standing in front of the painting and speaking in turn.

"Your agricultural system is sick. Our farmers are dying at work," they said, before security cleared the room.

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