UPDATE 2-Police fire teargas during French job protests

* Incident occurs on day of wider protests

* CGT labour union turns against Hollande

* CGT says 90,000 turned out for marches nationwide

(Updates with turnout estimates, poll)

By Pauline Mevel and Brian Love

PARIS, Oct 9 (Reuters) - French riot police fired teargas todisperse protesters outside the Paris auto show on Tuesday aspeople marched nationwide to denounce hardship and job losses ina country where unemployment is at its highest since 1999 andeconomic growth has stopped.

The incident came as tens of thousands responded to a callby the CGT labour union, one of the two biggest in France, forthe first nationwide protests since Socialist President FrancoisHollande took office in May.

Police intervened after around 1,000 protesters includingworkers from a doomed PSA Peugeot Citroen plantattempted to break through a security cordon around the locationof the car show on the edge of Paris, a Reuters reporter at thescene said.

Some protesters pelted the police with eggs and flour duringa standoff that lasted about two hours ahead of a central Parisrally that drew upwards of 11,000 people, according to police.The union put that number at 25,000.

France's unemployment rate stands above 10 percent and thenumber of jobless has topped 3 million for the first time in 13years.

CGT leader Bernard Thibault, who openly called for a vote tounseat former president Nicolas Sarkozy last May, said nothingwas changing under Hollande, who has promised to slash France'spublic deficit without killing growth or inflicting Greek-stylecuts in spending on voters.

"We're deep in crisis because of bad policy responses, quitesimply," Thibault told state television channel France 2. "If amajority of employees voted for a change of president it wasbecause they wanted a change of economic and social policy."


Tens of thousands demonstrated in the major cities of Lyon,Toulouse, Bordeaux and the southern port city of Marseille,according to police and union estimates, while protests werealso held in smaller cities.

CGT estimates, often twice as high as those of police, putthe total nationwide turnout at upwards of 90,000.

"This is clearly a first warning to the government to remindit of the strength in this country," Mireille Chessa,general-secretary of the local CGT union, said in Marseille.

In an Ifop-Paris Match poll published on Tuesday, Hollande'sapproval rating fell to 41 percent from 47 percent in September.When respondents were asked whether Hollande was in touch withthe worries of the French people, only 51 percent agreed,marking a 10 point drop since September.

As marchers hit the streets, lawmakers in the lower house ofparliament approved a European pact that commits France, likeother euro zone countries, to seek balanced public finances - apact agreed to in order to stem a debt crisis plaguing theregion for more than two years.

The CGT said in a statement that spending cuts beingimplemented across much of Europe to counter bloated debts andcalm financial markets were the "worst of all remedies".

"Workers all across Europe are joining forces to voice theiropposition to this policy of austerity and the European treaty,"said the CGT, which estimated that half of French wage-earnerslives on less than 1,500 euros ($1,900) a month.

Police fired teargas and stun grenades to halt crowdschanting anti-austerity slogans and waving swastika flags inGreece on Tuesday as German Chancellor Angela Merkel made herfirst visit since the euro crisis erupted three years ago.($1 = 0.7711 euros)

(Additional reporting by Nicholas Vinocur in Paris,Jean-Francois Rosnoblet in Marseille and Jean Decotte inToulouse; Writing by Brian Love; Editing by Alison Williams)

((brian.love@thomsonreuters.com)(+33 1 4949 5363)(ReutersMessaging: brian.love.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))