French labour law protests again descend into violence

Police clash with demonstrators in Paris as strikes close Eiffel Tower and disrupt transport links during Euro 2016

An injured protester is led away by riot police in Paris on Tuesday.

Several hundred masked protesters have hurled objects at police in Paris, as the latest demonstration against disputed changes to France’s labour laws descended into violence.

The clashes erupted on Tuesday as the international spotlight was turned on France as the host of the Euro 2016, which have also been marred by violence between rival football fans.

Strikes closed the Eiffel Tower and disrupted transport links as tens of thousands of fans entered the country for Europe’s showcase football event.

Authorities made six arrests and at least two people were hurt in the Paris unrest, as demonstrators stormed a building site and began to hurl wooden palettes at riot police.

Footage showed one man being led away by riot police with blood streaming from a wound above his eye, his white T-shirt red with blood.

The strike is the latest in months of industrial action that has led to severe air and rail disruption, fuel shortages and piles of uncollected rubbish on the streets of the capital.

“I’ve been to all the demos since March because I want to live in dignity, not just survive,” said Aurelien Boukelmoune, a 26-year-old technician marching in Paris.

“I want the reforms to be withdrawn, pure and simple. Only then will it stop. For the government’s sake, they should withdraw the law, otherwise we’ll block the economy.”

The latest protests coincide with a French senate debate on the proposed changes to employment law, which supporters say are aimed at making the job market more flexible and reducing high unemployment but which opponents say are too pro-business.

President François Hollande’s socialist government voiced hope that the latest day of protest would be a last stand for the movement against the changes.

But Philippe Martinez, head of the CGT, the union which spearheaded last month’s blockades of fuel depots and a continuing rail strike, predicted a “very strong mobilisation”.

The CGT laid on more than 600 buses to transport demonstrators to Paris and said it hoped to attract more support than in March, when it claimed 1.2 million people took to the streets (authorities claim the figure was 390,000).

Paris police chief Michel Cadot said he expected “maybe more than 50,000 demonstrators” in the capital alone for Tuesday’s protest.

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