Tens of thousands of labor-union supporters took to the streets in cities across France Thursday to protest the government’s proposed reforms aimed at reducing the country’s high unemployment rate and boosting economic growth.
Protesters carried signs and chanted “all together!” and “strike!” in widespread demonstrations against President François Hollande’s new law, which would make labor laws more flexible in an attempt to curtail unemployment, which dipped below 10 percent this month for the first time in more than two years. Hollande’s government says the overhaul would lead to more hires. Union members oppose the law, saying it would weaken protections for workers.
The debate over the reforms has sparked many protests this month, some of which have turned violent. The Place de La Nation, a major square in Paris, was transformed Thursday into a scene of chaos as protesters clashed with police. In this video from someone present, one protester attempts to stop a moving police van:
Police deployed tear gas against the crowds. Some demonstrators came prepared, wearing surgical masks over their noses and mouths. Others smashed windows of storefronts. In this video from France 24 reporter Claire Williams, some protesters throw homemade explosives:
Dispatches and videos from the protests assembled on Twitter under #manif26mai, which translates to “protest” and the date May 26. Police estimate between 18,000 and 19,000 people turned out in Paris, while the Force Ouvriere, one of the major unions in France, said 100,000 were present, according to France 24.