Riot police called out as France seeks to make labor market reforms

Police used tear gas on protesters who threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at them in the latest round of French labor market disputes.

NPR reports on the reforms which socialist President Francois Hollande has been backing in an attempt to make France’s labor market more competitive:

French leaders say they have to make their country’s economy more flexible, competitive and productive. To do that, they say they need to end some long-standing worker protections. Legislation that’s moving forward would make it easier for employers to hire and fire workers. Truck drivers would also see their overtime pay cut…

French President Francois Hollande’s popularity has plummeted due to his support for the changes in labor policy. Despite that, the 61-year-old Socialist leader told Europe 1 Radio, “I will not give in.”

This is not the first time protests against labor reform have turned violent in recent weeks, as noted by the Associated Press:

Hollande said those who come to protests just “to break things” would be punished, saying that 350 police officers have been injured in recent weeks and 60 people convicted.

Paris police chief Michel Cadot blamed the violence on 100-150 people, mainly ultra-leftists — a smaller number than in previous demonstrations. Cadot, speaking on BFM-TV, said a dozen people were arrested and there were no major injuries.

Elsewhere around the country, truck drivers blocked roads and access to an oil refinery was blocked with burning tires and lumber in the street: