Wave of strikes and protests rock France

Wave of strikes and protests rock France

Hundreds of thousands hit the streets amid discontent over proposed new labor reforms

STRASBOURG (AA) - A wave of strikes in France which started last year over controversial proposed labor reforms is continuing with protests this week.

The labor bill, prepared by France's Labor Minister Myriam El Khomri to bring down unemployment, has been lambasted by government critics. Trade unions consider the law, which would extend working hours and restrict overtime, as taking away vested rights.

According to France’s Interior Ministry, over 2,000 people have been detained since March during protests of the law.

Some demonstrators were injured in April due to heavy police intervention with teargas and plastic bullets to disperse the protestors.

One 20-year-old protestor lost his eye due to a plastic bullet in the northwestern city of Rennes. Police also started to use drones in Paris during demonstrations.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in the country's major cities to protest the labor bill since March. According to police, 390,000 people took part in nationwide demonstrations on March 31, while unions say 1.2 million people protested.

On April 29, 500,000 people took to the streets according to unions, versus 170,000 according to police estimates.

Also, police say 55,000 people protested the law on May 12, while unions say the number of protestors was 80,000.

Security forces said that 68,000 people took party in demonstrations on Tuesday, especially in Paris, Rennes, and Nantes, but unions said there were 106,000 protestors.

France, Europe’s number three country in terms of the frequency of strikes, saw strikes take place during 80 workdays of the year.

Last year France saw a total of 966 strikes, including three general and 93 nationwide.

Most of the strikes in 2015 were in the healthcare sector. Other sectors that went on strike last year were in the industrial sector, the post office, and local transportation and railway services.

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