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French union boss - we won't beat Macron reforms if we are divided

PARIS (Reuters) - Public anger at French President Emmanuel Macron's economic and social reforms is growing, but the "corporate bosses" will triumph if trade unions fail to pull together, the hard-left CGT union warned on Thursday ahead of nationwide street protests.
The second round of CGT-led demonstrations comes a week after the unions rallied hundreds of thousands of people -- 220,000 according to the police, half a million according to the CGT -- to march against Macron's overhaul of the labour code.
Despite the opposition, the government says it will press ahead with the labour reforms, which will give more power to companies to set working conditions, before embarking on other, potentially more explosive reforms. Those include a revamping of France's employment insurance and pension systems.
"We're building a movement which will grow," Philippe Martinez, head of the Communist Party-rooted CGT, told LCI television.
France's unions are, however, divided in their response to Macron's labour reforms.
The moderate CFDT union, the biggest in the country, and the leftist Force Ouvriere (FO) have expressed disappointment with the government's proposals but refused to join the CGT protests.
"When the union movement and workers are divided, it is generally speaking the corporate bosses who win," Martinez said.
Macron's government, which is backed by a strong parliamentary majority, plans to enact the new labour decrees on Friday.
While the fight against labour reform may be lost, more union-led protests against the 39-year-old leader's reform drive are planned in the two weeks ahead: Truck drivers plan a strike on Monday before pensioners stage a protest on Sept 28 and civil servants take to the streets on Oct. 10.
The hard-left France Unbowed party of firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon plans its own protest on Sept. 23.
Macron has shrugged off the protests and says he has a mandate to re-shape the economy.
"I do believe in democracy. And democracy is not in the street," Macron told CNN this week.
The ability of the unions to shut down swathes of the economy and force ministers to respond is not what it used to be. Strikes have become less frequent, less disruptive and less successful, leaving some union's groping for relevance.
"The next weeks will be critical to determine how much political capital Macron will lose during the protests," said London think-tank Eurointelligence.
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