Emmanuel Macron last week announced health workers would need to undergo compulsory vaccination as he also introduced a new health pass to access restaurants, cinemas, and to travel. The move sparked controversy across France, with thousands taking to the streets over the past week to demand President Macron U-turn on his proposal. But with the French President standing firm, the demonstrations against the health pass have extended to France’s overseas territories such as Martinique.
Footage shared online showed several hundreds of protesters blocking roads with their march to demand Mr Macron withdraws demands for mandatory vaccinations.
According to local newspaper France-Antille, the demonstration was the result of an appeal from a health inter-union for professionals to take to the steers.
The group assembled in front of Pierre Zobda Quitman hospital on Tuesday before launching into a march chanting “no compulsory vaccination.”
Jean-Pierre Jean-Louis, the secretary-general of FO Santé, said: “We have nothing against vaccination, it must be clear.
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“It remains an individual choice. It is an obligation that we refuse.”
The trade unions behind the protest, which blocked the road leading to Point des Sables in Fort-de- France, insisted health workers needed more support from the central government rather than being ordered to get jabbed.
In a statement released ahead of the demonstration, they said: “What we, health workers, lack are the means and the personnel to treat properly, but not an obligation to be vaccinated.
“What we are lacking are beds to hospitalize and accommodate our patients, those they have closed over the past 20 years for financial and profitability issues, but not a health pass.
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“What we lack is respect for our professions, our work, our commitment to the population, whether in the public, private or liberal, but not the stigmatization of our professions.”
The President’s allies insist protests should not obscure what they say is a silent majority who support the measures, and believe they are needed to get life back to normal.
Laetitia Avia, a member of Parliament with Macron’s party, told Reuters: “Let’s keep it in perspective.
“There were around 100,000 people protesting across the country, while there are millions of people who got themselves vaccinated.”
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Police estimated 100,000 people across France took to the streets to protest the new measures, with further demonstrations planned for this weekend.
An internal interior ministry report, seen by Reuters, described last week’s protests as “exceptional in their scale,” warned further large protests were likely and said some officials associated with the government’s COVID-19 measures needed to be extra vigilant about their security.
Rodrigues, one of the movement’s best-known figures who lost an eye when he was hit with a projectile at a protest two years ago, said the latest protests had attracted people beyond the usual Yellow Vest faithful.
“I’ve seen a lot of first-time protesters,” Rodrigues, who wears a prosthetic eye, said at his apartment. “Healthcare workers, restaurant owners too, all kinds of people, children.”
“If there’s one thing that can unite people today, it’s anger.”