France's lower house of parliament overwhelmingly ratified the European Union fiscal pact today despite fears that it amounts to a "permanent austerity treaty."
MPs backed the Fiscal Stability Treaty, which forces national governments to set budgets the EU deems balanced and penalises those which are considered to spend too much, by 477 votes to 70.
The Left Front led resistance to the treaty, while around 20 MPs of President Francois Hollande's governing Socialist Party and his Green allies also voted against.
It passes to the Senate tomorrow.
The CGT trade union federation led a day of protest to coincide with the vote, highlighting job losses and a flatlining economy. Marches "in defence of work and industry" were joined by thousands in Paris, Marseille, Lyon and other cities.
CGT secretary Bernard Thibault said Mr Hollande's government was proving no better than that of his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.
"We're deep in crisis because of bad policy, quite simply," he said. "If a majority voted for a change of president it was because they wanted a change of economic and social policy."
The president is seeking to convince unions to agree to reduced employment rights and wage cuts in line with business lobbying, but Mr Thibault argued: "I don't see why the workers should have to give more. It's workers who made possible the change in government, not business.
"This is about having a government that listens to its electorate."
Fellow union official Pascal Debay said: "We're witnessing the breaking of employment and the wreckage of French industry. That's why we're mobilising."
Demonstrators outside the Paris motor show protesting at job losses in car manufacturing clashed with riot police, who fired tear gas at activists who pelted them with flour and eggs.
CGT also mounted strikes in the energy sector, reducing power output.
nEurozone finance ministers meeting in Luxembourg failed to reach agreement on a tax on financial transactions or terms for increased economic unity in the bloc.
Eleven countries agreed on a financial tax in principle and may go ahead without the others, but the details of the tax have not been thrashed out.
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