Police ban night marches in central Paris as labour protests continue

French police issued a temporary ban on night processions from Paris' central Republic plaza on Thursday, as people protesting against a planned labour reform held demonstrations across the country.

Unions and student demonstrators marched against the so-called El Khomri law, which was put forward by Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri and aims to make the labour market more flexible. Opponents see the law as watering down hard-earned protections for workers.

Strikes by air traffic controllers grounded 20 per cent of flights at Paris' Orly airport and caused some delays at Charles de Gaulle. At least two venues saw performances cancelled due to striking theatre workers, and some local train traffic around Paris was disrupted.

In the northern city of Rennes, masked protesters scuffled with riot police, and a business awning was set on fire. Images from the western city of Nantes showed a burnt-out sports car.

Police fired tear gas during an afternoon march in Paris where several hundred people were demonstrating.

In addition to days of large-scale demontrations and strikes - four in the past two months - organized against the El Khomri law, a branch of protesters has also began a nightly sit-in in Paris that spread to other cities.

Nuit Debout (Rise Up At Night) demonstrations have been largely peaceful, focused initially on labour proposals and eventually encompassing a broader political platform focused on social inequality.

But nearly 50 people have been detained during separate protests on three nights starting in mid-April that saw shop windows and bus stations smashed, and a police car lit on fire. According to police, nine people detained overnight between April 22 and 23 will appear before a judge in June.

Thursday's police order prohibits processions starting from the Republic plaza from 7 pm to 7 am Friday local time, as well as parking for small passenger vehicles in the area starting at 4 pm.

The legislation will go before France's parliament next week and is largely seen as an effort by President Francois Hollande to revive his country's sluggish economy that has been plagued by unemployment.

The government got a boost this week when the Labour Ministry released figures showing a significant month-to-month drop in unemployment - the first of such magnitude in more than a decade.

Last update: Thu, 28/04/2016 - 21:13

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