Away from the Cannes glamour, hospitality staff protest over harsh conditions
By Mindy Burrows
CANNES, France (Reuters) - French hospitality workers demonstrated on Friday at a five-star hotel a few blocks from the Cannes Film Festival's red carpet to draw attention to the difficult working conditions in the shadows of the glamour.
As in previous years, the French Riviera city of Cannes has banned demonstrations near the festival centre, but the forecourt of the Carlton Hotel, where around two dozen workers protested, falls outside the remit of the ban as it is private property.
France has been the scene of strikes and demonstrations for months, chiefly because of President Emmanuel Macron's pension reform law, which he passed last month by using constitutional powers to circumvent opposition in parliament. It raises the retirement age to 64.
"Young people don't want to do this career because it's too hard, too gruelling. So imagine this for a 64-year-old, it's practically impossible," said Ange Romiti, secretary general of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) union.
He said the protesters were happy to host festival-goers, but wanted to use the film festival, which runs through May 27, to help spread awareness of the difficulty of their lives.
Dominique Chave, a representative for CGT's business federation, also said she wanted people to know the conditions of those who helped to welcome the stars and the tourists.
"We have luxury ... and then we have all the hotel, cafe and in particular restaurant employees who are badly paid, have bad working conditions," Chave told Reuters.
"When you come on holiday, you only see the good side of things. However, you don't see the difficult working conditions."
Members of the CGT union in the power sector had threatened to cut off the electricity at the film festival as part of its protests against Macron's reforms, but festival director Thierry Fremaux said on Monday that talks with the union had so far been positive.
(Reporting by Mindy Burrows and Yiming Woo, Writing by Miranda Murray; editing by Barbara Lewis)