Workers protest because they Cannes

Higher wages, better benefits, more hires demanded

They’re here, they’re mad, get used to it.

The demonstrations that began during Wednesday’s opening-night ceremonies will continue throughout the fest, protesters vowed, as other signs of worker anger cropped up Thursday.

Workers from all over France have assembled here to support the showbiz folk who are battling cuts to unemployment benefits. One protester told Variety the various groups were still in huddles about an overall game plan, but many of the demonstrators promised the rallies won’t stop until there is a resolution.

Meanwhile, a parallel protest was being held Thursday, as dozens of Carlton staffers chanted and waved banners at the entrance to the hotel. In a sight that could only occur in Cannes, they shouted and angrily waved banners as they stood in front of a giant billboard of Nicole Kidman in “The Stepford Wives,” while a Troma Films van drove by, honking support for the protesters.

The Carlton-ites are demanding higher wages, better benefits and more hires; they also are asking for the ouster of hotel director Didier Boidin.

Meanwhile, Cannes arrivals told tales of late or canceled flights from Paris as airport employees stopped working in solidarity with the showbiz workers.

The showbiz workers on Wednesday kicked off their protest about a block from the Palais. Making good on their promise to get attention without disrupting the fest, more than 100 workers waited until after the start of opening-night film “Bad Education” before they began chanting demands for education, health and culture.

The fest had allowed a few protesters to climb the Palais steps, and celebs such as Pedro Almodovar and Emmanuelle Beart stopped to talk with the protesters on the way up the red carpet. Two women stood on the steps, even long after the film had started, with their arms raised in a gesture of defiance.

There will be a press conference about the issue today and, this being Cannes, a picnic on the beach Saturday at which members of the public will be invited to meet with the protesters.

(Jonathan Bing and Alison James contributed to this report.)

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