Scuffles have broken out between French riot police and hundreds of demonstrators protesting against a string of proposals made by the government to change labor rules in Europe
’s third-largest economy.
Protesters took to the streets in Nantes Wednesday in opposition to the controversial labor reforms commonly referred to as the “El Khomri law,” a reference to French Labor Minister Myriam El Khomri.
The marchers shouted “resistance” as they made their way through the city. They also carried a banner reading “Labor Law, insecurity for perpetuity.”
The protesters set rubbish bins on fire, and many hurled projectiles at police. Security forces fired tear gas canisters in return, and arrested a number of people to break up the demonstration.
Video footage showed shattered restaurant and shop windows, as well as a broken ATM machine screen.
French police apprehend a protester during clashes with French police at a demonstration against the French labor law proposal in Nantes, France, on April 20, 2016. (Reuters)
Police reportedly blocked roads and the Anne of Brittany Bridge to prevent protesters from reaching the city center.
A similar demonstration also took place in the capital Paris, where protesters gathered on Place de la Republique. Some of the protesters staged a sit-in outside Quick Burger and McDonald’s restaurants, blocking the entrances.
The French government says the proposed labor reforms focus on maximum working hours, holidays as well as breaks, and are aimed at curbing the country’s unemployment rate, which President Francois Hollande is trying to lower below 10 percent.
Protesters and workers’ unions, however, say the government wants to make it easier and less costly for employers to lay off workers.