Paris yesterday staged an unprecedented collective protest against industry-wide restructuring. An estimated 400 staff from all five major labels in France gathered at Paris' Palais Royal, home to the

Paris yesterday staged an unprecedented collective protest against industry-wide restructuring. An estimated 400 staff from all five major labels in France gathered at Paris' Palais Royal, home to the ministry of culture.

The demonstration was an initiative of the combined trade unions representing music industry workers. Although EMI staff held a similar protest two years ago, this is the first time all five majors' employees have gathered for the same demonstration.

At the same time, employees at EMI France went on strike. Nearly 90% of the major's 340-strong workforce observed the industrial action, says a spokesman. According to Jacques Lefrançois, who represents members of the CFDT union at EMI France, "people here are angry. This is the company's third restructuring in two years, and EMI is the only profitable major right now." The company plans to eliminate about 70 jobs.

According to union representatives, more than 20% of the French industry's 5,000-strong workforce is under threat. A restructuring at Warner Music France, announced yesterday, will see its workforce shrink to 133 employees from 171.

Representatives of French music industry workers last month entered discussions for the first time with major labels' body the SNEP. But as Lefrançois explains, "the aim of that meeting was to build an as yet inexistent social context for music workers in the long term. Yesterday's events were an urgent reaction to the labels' planned layoffs. I'm sure they will make a difference in our restructuring discussions with management," he says.

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