France was bracing for more clashes between demonstrators and police as unions mounted a nationwide protest against President Hollande's controversial bill for making hiring and firing workers easier. David Pollard reports.
Security was tight in Paris ... even before the demonstrators arrived. A protest ban overturned on Thursday - thousands expected on the streets as part of a nationwide movement. In Marseilles, they were already there. A party mood on the outside, if inside, for many, anger. (SOUNDBITE) (French) DEPARTMENTAL SECRETARY OF CGT UNION, OLIVIER MATEU, SAYING: "We're protesting so that this government takes back the labour law. It's a reform which has been imposed on most of the countries in southern Europe, and now we can see the effects of that." Others, though, warn of the effects of not doing it. While polls show two in three French voters are unhappy with a plan to make hiring and firing easier, investors see it as a must-do. Double-digit unemployment something Francois Hollande has promised to deal with - before running in next year's presidential election. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIDELITY WORLDWIDE INVESTMENT, INVESTMENT DIRECTOR, TOM STEVENSON, SAYING: "Since the financial crisis, the French economy has grown by about three per cent. That compares with a growth of about ten per cent for the UK economy. So these reforms are really important, and the president is really struggling to push them through." Hollande has pledged to take his labour bill through to the finish line. The danger for France, say investors, is that it's not even in the race. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIDELITY WORLDWIDE INVESTMENT, INVESTMENT DIRECTOR, TOM STEVENSON, SAYING: "We've had a situation where we've had a very weak periphery and a stronger core, and France has been somewhere in between those two extremes. But the current situation sees it veering more towards the weaker, peripheral side of the euro zone than the stronger core." Hollande's government wants the bill formally adopted in July. If right now, there's little sign of the anger cooling.