New clashes between police and protesters in Paris
New clashes have erupted between French police and protesters, who took to the streets in Paris against the government’s controversial labor reforms.
On the eve of Euro 2016 soccer championship in Paris, hundreds of protesters took to the streets on Thursday to call on the socialist government of President Francois Hollande to cancel labor reforms.
Police used riot shields to push the protesters and disperse them as they threw stones and eggs at officers.
Unions have pledged to hold nationwide strikes and rallies throughout the Euro 2016 soccer tournament.
On Wednesday, rail workers walked out of their jobs, and three main waste treatment facilities in Paris went on strike.
Rubbish collection has stopped in several areas in Paris as most of the bin lorry depots have not been active for more than a week. The main waste treatment and incineration site for Paris has also been blockaded for 10 days.
France’s finance minister, Michel Sapin, called on workers to end the strikes. He argued that the walkouts risked undermining signs of stronger growth and falling unemployment in the country.
The government says the labor reforms are aimed at boosting the country’s economy and curbing the high unemployment rate.
“Unemployment is falling. This is not the moment to throw a spanner into the works with growth picking up,” Sapin said.
Protesters and workers’ unions, however, say the government wants to make it easier and less costly for employers to lay off workers, calling the reforms an attack on workers’ rights.
The draft labor bill was recently forced through the lower house of parliament, but it must be debated in the Senate for final approval.
The French government has refused to scrap the bill, with Prime Minister Manuel Valls saying he will not bow to protests.
President Hollande has said the reform package would not be withdrawn despite stiff opposition and numerous protests.
France has been the scene of a series of extensive demonstrations and walkouts over the past months.
A state of emergency has also been in place since last November when terror attacks claimed more than a hundred lives in Paris.