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France

Social unrest spreads as French farmers announce strike action

media Protesters wearing yellow vests occupy a roundabout in Sainte-Eulalie near Bordeaux REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

French farmers will carry out a series of strikes next week to protest against increased financial charges on their operations. The announcement comes at a time when the French government is seeking an end to more than two weeks of protests by the ‘yellow vest’ movement.

“No specific day has been set, it’s for the week,” Christiane Lambert, head of the main agricultural union told the French news agency AFP.

Lambert said that the farmers were not officially joining the ‘yellow vests’.

“They want an apolitical movement, without unions, and I respect that,” she said, adding that farmers were facing “specific problems”.

She accused the government of “agri-bashing” by imposing new regulations such as requiring farmers to declare when they use glyphosate, a weedkiller suspected by some scientists of causing cancer.

“Farmers feel humiliated,” Lambert said.

Government to make further concessions?

The French government indicated on Wednesday that it was willing to make further concessions to the ‘yellow vest’ protesters.

France has been rocked by protests since November 17 against the rising fuel taxes and the government’s pro-business agenda.

One of the main demands of the protesters is a repeal of the cutting of the tax on high earners.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told a radio network on Wednesday that the wealth tax would be evaluated.

“If something isn’t working, we’re not dumb, we’ll change it.”

French President Emmanuel Macron had made scrapping the ‘fortune tax’ one of his key campaign pledges ahead of his election in May 2017, arguing that such levies on the wealthy discouraged job creation and drove entrepreneurs to leave the country.

Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced the suspension of the rise in fuel taxes which was scheduled for January 1, for six months.

- with AFP

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