Violence erupts at protests over French labour reforms

Demonstrators clash with anti-riot police during a protest in Paris, against the French government's proposed labour law reforms. PHOTO:

Demonstrators clash with anti-riot police during a protest in Paris, against the French government’s proposed labour law reforms. PHOTO:

Twenty-two people were arrested in Paris during clashes with police at a demonstration over labour reforms seen as threatening workers’ rights, French police said Saturday.

Some 3,000 people late Friday gathered in the Place de la Republique for another of the “Up All Night” protests, which has been taking place since March 31 over a government bill that will make it easier for struggling companies to fire workers.

About 100 of the protesters set rubbish on fire and pelted police with bottles, cans and stones during the night, the Paris police department said in a statement.

Officers responded with tear gas and then forced the protesters out of the square.

The violence continued in the northeast of the capital, where two banks and a building site were vandalised.

The police said 22 people were arrested and four officers were injured.

Hundreds of people have been gathering every night for the past two weeks at the Place de la Republique, the vast square in eastern Paris where a memorial has been erected to the 130 victims of last November’s jihadist attacks.

The labour reforms are a unifying theme of the gatherings, but the “Nuit Debout” or “Up All Night” movement is broader, embracing a range of anti-establishment grievances.

The participants say they are drawing inspiration from the Spanish protesters known as the Indignados, who gave rise to the far-left Podemos party.

Sporadic violence erupted on April 9 when tens of thousands of people took to the streets in dozens of French cities as part of the movement.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Friday said 151 officers have been injured since the start of the protests, describing the incidents of violence as “intolerable”.

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