France: Mass street protests over disputed labor law
Protests, which began in March, come as Senate starts debating reforms
Thousands of people have taken to the streets across France on Tuesday in answer to unions’ call to protest the government’s controversial labor law.
Police said 13 masked individuals had been arrested in Paris for acts of violence and vandalizing.
The protests came as part of a series of recent open-ended strikes in rail, energy and in other sectors amid protests that have kept shaking the country since March 9th.
Unions have been demanding that the left-wing government scrap the contested labor bill - dubbed the El Khomri law after Labor Minister Myriam El Khomri - claiming it paves the way for fundamental changes in labor law at the expense of workers.
Rallies have been taking place in around 50 towns and cities across the country. The biggest protest started at around 1.00 p.m. (1100GMT) local time at the French capital with a leading sign reading: "For the withdrawal. For new rights."
The CGT labour union leader Philippe Martinez said earlier that the Paris march would be the biggest show of strength in three months.
"This is not the end. The struggle is far from over," Martinez said.
On Monday, just 4.5 percent of employees of the country's SNCF rail company took part in an ongoing strike that began two weeks ago.
The Eiffel Tower was closed to tourists on Tuesday as staff also joined the protest movement.
The French Senate began debating the reform on Monday. It is set to conclude on June 24.
Unions have already called for new protests on June 23 and 28.