Labor Dispute Protests in France Turn Violent


In France, on April 17, 2016, the peaceful “Nuit Deout” (Rise Up at Night) protests turned violent. According to the French Interior Ministry, as of March 31, there were 100 people arrested due to conflicts with the police. To date, 400 people have been arrested since the beginning of the protests on March 31.

The peaceful demonstrations began in order to protest France’s proposed labor reform, which was recommended by the labor minister, Myriam El Khomri. Paris is just one city trying very hard to deal with high unemployment. The proposed reform suggests stopping overtime pay that exceeds 35 hours, making employers responsible for only 10 percent, instead of the 25 percent of the overtime bonus they are presently paying. Demonstrators have added more complaints, and it now looks like a revolution has broken out. Within the past few days, almost 3,000 people, mostly young, have occupied Place de la Republique in Paris. Every night, small groups come in with the apparent motive to create conflict with the police, who have cautioned the coordinators they should not let their peaceful protests be ruined by a few mischief-makers. Those protesting during the labor disputes, which are taking a violent turn in France, hope their actions will help authorities to stop devaluing the workforce.

Rise Up at Night is a movement that is against the “leftist” plan of Hollende and capitalism. The once-peaceful protests have turned so violent that police have used pepper spray and tear gas to break up the crowds. Previously, in April, protests linked to violent conflicts, with multiple arrests, were conducted across the country. Numerous journalists who were covering the demonstrations were hurt during the protests.

In Paris, Yanis Varoufakis, the previous finance minister from Greece, spoke to adversaries of the French government’s labor reforms, explaining that the reforms would “devalue labor.” He added it this would worsen things by making it simpler for businesses that are struggling to lay people off. According to the government, the reform will make the labor force inflexible, but protesters say it will not work, and the jobless rate for young people will not improve. At present, more than 20 percent of France’s youth are unemployed. Some have commented that Varoufakis has the qualities to be prime minister.

The Rise Up at Night workforce reform began as a uniting topic for the crowds, but has since taken on anti-business objections. The nightly protests have been tainted by periodic violence in France. Early Saturday, over 21 people were arrested after setting wooden pallets on fire and attacking police. who responded by setting off tear gas into the crowd. Some members of the police force were injured.

Labor disputes in France over the proposed reforms have taken a violent turn because the young people of the country feel they are being devalued. The people feel very strongly that making them work longer hours for less pay will not solve the high unemployment of the country.

By Katherine Miller

Sources: Varoufakis joins French anti-labor reform protests in Paris
BBC News: France labour reforms: Hundreds of thousands protest
Yahoo News: Yanis Varoufakis rallies anti-reform protestors in Paris

Image Courtesy of David McKelvey’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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