Protesters in balaclavas and black robes clashed with police in Paris on Saturday (1), as thousands joined in traditional May Day protests across France to demand economic and social justice and express their opposition to government plans to change unemployment insurance benefits.
Police arrested 46 people in the capital, where garbage cans were set on fire and bank windows smashed, delaying the march.
More than 106,000 people marched across France, including 17,000 in Paris, according to the Interior Ministry.
The unionists were joined by members of the yellow vests, which sparked a wave of protests three years ago, and by workers in sectors hard hit by the pandemic restrictions, such as the cultural sector.
Protesters, mostly masked, following the coronavirus rules, carried signs reading “dividends, not unemployment benefits, are the income of the lazy” and “we want to live, not survive”.
Police, who have deployed 5,000 agents in Paris, said they had stopped the black blocs from forming a group. Three policemen were injured in the city.
“A lot of money goes to those who already have a lot and less to those who have nothing, as evidenced by the unemployment insurance reform plans that we want to abandon,” said Philippe Martínez, leader of the CGT union. .
Around 300 rallies were organized in cities like Lyon, Nantes, Lille and Toulouse.
Socialist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who plan to challenge President Emmanuel Macron in next year’s presidential election, attended the events of May 1.
“My wish for the working class is that they can get rid of the fear of being unemployed,” Melenchon said during a protest in Lille, adding that he hoped to return to the northern city as president .
Le Pen, who previously laid a wreath in Paris on the statue of Joan of Arc, his party’s nationalist symbol, warned of what he called “total chaos” if Macron is re-elected.
Macron, the former investment banker who won the presidency in 2017 by promising a new way of doing politics, has seen his reform agenda mired in struggles with the unions, as the pandemic halted his reform of the labor market. planned retreats.
France, which has the eighth highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world, will begin publishing its third pandemic restriction from Monday (3), after a drop in infection rates.