Demonstrations in France have turned violent in several places. In Paris, a police officer was seriously injured when he was pelted with a Molotov cocktail. In Nantes, a demonstrator was seriously injured in the hand by a police grenade.
The police already took riots into account. 12,000 agents have been deployed across the country, 5,000 of them in Paris alone. 68 people were arrested in the capital around 6 p.m.
Estimates of the total number of demonstrators vary. According to the interior ministry, there were 782,000 across France, 112,000 of them in Paris. The CGT union says there were many more, 2.3 million in total, 550,000 of them in the capital.
Today there are demonstrations in more than 300 places because of Labor Day, but also in protest against the pension reforms. President Macron has decided to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. The joint trade unions have called on the population to take to the streets en masse and “as never before”.
In the capital, the protest march started in mid-afternoon. But many hundreds of anti-capitalist demonstrators, dressed in black and often wearing balaclavas, were ahead of the trade union procession. They pelted officers with stones and street furniture, set fire to rubbish bins and vandalized and looted shops. Prime Minister Borne speaks on Twitter of “unacceptable violent scenes”.
The police used tear gas on a large scale:
It was also restless in other cities, often as in Paris due to the arrival of the radical left-wing demonstrators, the so-called Black Bloc. In Toulouse, they pelted police officers and attacked a police car. In Nantes, demonstrators clashed with police. In Lyon there were riots, vandalism and arson. Cars have been set on fire and shops looted.
Moderate unions have doubts
It is the thirteenth time since January that the joint unions are organizing a national day of protest against the increase in the retirement age. Some unions want to continue doing so until the reform is reversed.
But the chances of that happening are very slim. Moderate unions therefore doubt whether it makes sense to continue with actions. Tomorrow morning the unions will discuss the continuation of the protests.
People also took to the streets for Labor Day in many other countries:
- Strikes again in France: public transport and air traffic disrupted
- Strike France: roadblocks, train strike, garbage is not collected