Paris police battle with May Day protesters
Trade unions and other groups staged rallies around the world to mark International Workers’ Day with violence breaking out in Paris on the fringes of one protest.
Fearing France’s worker protections are under threat, hundreds of angry youths on the sidelines of a rally hurled stones and wood at police in the capital, receiving repeated bursts of tear gas in response.
The traditional May Day rallies took on greater weight this year as parliament is debating a bill that would allow longer working hours and let companies lay workers off more easily.
The bill has prompted the most violent labour-related protests in a decade, with marches and sit-ins frequently degenerating into clashes with police.
Police encircled a few hundred suspected troublemakers on the sidelines of the Paris march yesterday, and frustrated youths threw projectiles.
In Marseille, at least five people were arrested after scuffles with riot police. Marchers held banners calling President Francois Hollande a “traitor” and chanted “Everyone together!”
The Socialist government hopes the relatively modest labour reform will reduce chronically high unemployment and make France more globally competitive, by allowing companies more flexibility.
Opponents say it erodes hard-fought worker protections and call it a gift to corporate interests.