TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -Growing protests at French universities on Wednesday added to pressure on President Emmanuel Macron over his sweeping reforms, as rail workers pressed on with rolling strikes that are causing havoc for millions of travelers.
Train drivers and other railway staff waged a second day of strikes set to continue two days out of every five until June 28, unless Macron backs down on his bid to overhaul state rail operator SNCF.
In the meantime, students at two universities in Paris and Lyon blocked faculty buildings in protest at Macron's plans to make university entry more selective, joining a slew of nationwide sit-ins that have disrupted classes for weeks.
French unions and left-wingers have consistently called for students and workers to come together to resist Macron in a re-run 50 years later of the famed May 1968 anti-government demonstrations that saw them join forces.
"I'm working for a May 2018," radical leftist and former presidential candidate Olivier Besancenot told France Inter radio.
In Marseille, hundreds of demonstrators from different walks of life — retired dockers, postmen, students — staged a protest in defense of public services, which they fear Macron is seeking to dismantle.
"They are attacking the rail workers before moving on to other public sector workers," said Philippe Laget, a CGT union official.
The president, a 40-year-old ex-investment banker, has vowed to reshape France with far-reaching reforms designed to increase economic growth and cut mounting public debt.
He managed to push through controversial labor reforms in October 2017, but a series of protests against his various shake-ups led to the biggest and most organized test of his resolve.
On Tuesday, Air France staff, garbage collectors and some energy workers staged separate walkouts along with train drivers, adding to a growing atmosphere of discontent.
"This is the start of a social power struggle almost unknown in France," firebrand leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon told a rail workers' protest in Paris.