by Sylwia Heller
France faces several protests since 9 March when plans to change labour legislation were created. Since then a great number of protesters showed their disapproval. A major strike took place on 31 of March where 400,000 people demonstrated.
The protests have taken place in Paris with relation to the recent labour reforms. There were 75,000 demonstrators gathered. Because of these strikes the Eiffel Tower had to be closed. The purpose of the reforms, which caused so much controversy, is to make it easier for employers to hire and fire their employees. The new law introduced last month through the national assembly also increased the working hours limit.
Protesters committed acts of violence and criminal damage as the police reports. These acts included throwing chunks of pavement, setting bins ablaze and breaking shop windows. Also several cars were set ablaze. Several hundred people with covered faces committed these crimes. In response the police used tear gas and water cannon.
The events in Paris have not been the only protests taking place in France. Students and trade unions also organized protests across the country. According to the police there have been 125,000 demonstrators while unions say that 1.3 million people were taking part in demonstrations.
Strikes in France also take a form of disruption of transport by rail workers and taxi drivers. There was also another strike of Air Force pilots which resulted in cancellation of 20% of flights. Pilots demanded better working conditions.
According to the new reforms employers could negotiate with trade union working hours up to 46 per week, not 25 hours as it has been before. Companies have also been given more freedom to reduce pay, to negotiate holidays and special leave like maternity or for getting married.