Photos: Violence During Protests in France Against Labor Reform
About 28,000 workers and youths took to the streets in France to protest a labor reform, sparking some violence on March 31.
The reform would make it easier to hire and fire employees, and will also relax the nation’s strict 35-hour work week.
Train drivers, teachers, and other workers went on strike, while student organizations and several employee unions got together to condemn the new measure.
“It’s shocking that a Socialist government introduced this law,” said Zoe Farre, 23, during a peaceful gathering in Paris.
Meanwhile, officials and businesses claim that the changes would help the economy and lower unemployment in the country.
Farre, who is unemployed, said she understood the argument that more flexibility means more jobs, but she was uncertain about the kinds of jobs the government was talking about.
“It’s going to be like the U.K. where you’re on a zero-hour contract or like the U.S. where they make you hold a sign in the street and call it a job,” she said.
In Paris, a few dozen protesters wearing hoods or masks disrupted a peaceful student demonstration to throw paint bombs at banks and stores. Other protesters smashed cash machines with bats or set of off smoke canisters while confronting authorities.
Confrontations also broke out between young protesters and the police in the cities of Nantes, Rennes, and Toulouse.
The strike affected public transportation, schools, public hospitals, and state-owned broadcasters, while 20 percent of flights at Paris’ Orly airport were canceled.
State railway company SNCF warned travelers of disruptions to national and regional train traffic.
The Eiffel tower was forced to close, with officials stating there was a lack of staff to open the landmark with “sufficient security and reception conditions.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.