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Turnout down on third day of French labour reform protests

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CGT leader Philippe Martinez leads Thusday's demonstration in Marseille AFP

A third day of protests against French President Emmanuel Macron's labour reform saw a lower turnout than the previous two but union leaders are planning a new day of action in November.


Despite the usual divergence between official figures and those of the organisers, both sides agreed that Thursday's marches in Paris, Marseille and dozens of other towns and cities were smaller than those in September.

The Interior Ministry gave a total of 37,000, a third of its estimate of the turnout on 21 September.

The day of action was called by the militant CGT trade union and backed by the smaller Solidaires, along with a teachers' union, FSU, and a students' union, Unef.

Thirteeen regional groupings of the managers' union, CFE-CGC, also backed the protests, although their national leadership did not.

Local branches of other major unions, the CFDT and FO, have also joined the anti-labour reform demonstations despite their national chiefs' refusal to endorse street protests on the question, leading the CGT to push for further action in November.

"We are determined to fight to the end," CGT leader Philippe Martinez while leading his troops in Marseille.

The union says it will propose a day for a united protest to the other unions in the next few weeks.

The poor turnout has led the press to speculate that the movement is running out of steam.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Thursday stressed that the decrees instituting the changes have been "signed and published and are in operation" despite differences with the unions and insisted the government was moving on to discussions on apprenticeships, training and unemployment insurance.