French unions, government compromise on labour demonstrations

French government and union leaders said Wednesday that they had reached a compromise over a planned labour march, banned by police earlier over concerns of violence. They said the march would proceed.

Scheduled for Thursday, the demonstration against labour reforms had been blocked by Paris police amid concerns that the violence afflicting recent protests could erupt again.

But Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said after meeting with union leaders that a short route had been agreed to. Cazeneuve added that "no violence" would be tolerated.

Earlier police proposals to hold a stationary rally in a Parisian plaza without marching had been dismissed during negotiations with the unions, the police said in a statement in which they announced the ban on the demonstration.

Philippe Martinez, the leader of umbrella union CGT, said after meeting Cazeneuve that the demonstration would go ahead, starting and ending at the Bastille plaza in central Paris. He called for a massive demonstration to express discontent with the government-led labour reform.

He also reiterated statements that the union protests were peaceful, after demonstrations held last week saw the defacing of multiple businesses and public administration buildings, including a hospital.

Paris' police chief said 1,000 rioters on the sidelines of the main march on June 14 had been responsible for much of the violence that took place, which left 28 police officers injured.

In a statement, police said protests held sporadically for months are putting an additional strain on security forces already dealing with a high terrorist threat and the Euro 2016 football tournament.

Demonstrations and strikes have been called since March by labour unions to pressure the government to change or withdraw controversial labour legislation relaxing firing rules and easing overtime regulation. The legislation is currently under debate in Senate.

Last update: Wed, 22/06/2016 - 17:04
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