Burning cars, tear gas: Rennes, France hit by violent anti-labor reform rallies (PHOTOS)

Rennes has been engulfed by violent protests over labor reform that will see longer working hours for less money. The rallies have been happening since March 31, with hundreds of thousands taking to streets all over France.

In the latest protest, demonstrators set cars on fire, attacked a bank, vandalized buildings, threw objects at the City Hall and drew slogans on its walls.

In response, police in riot gear attempted to disperse the rally with tear gas.
Footage from the scene shows plumes of orange tear gas smoke, and hooded protesters.

At first, they just wander around, but then things turn violent: police are shown in full riot gear, objects such as suitcases are chucked at CCTV cameras.

Hooded protesters scrawl “War to the Palace” in graffiti, set cars on fire, play drums, and break windows.

"The whole city center is shut down," Rennes resident Julien Fleurence told RT by phone, adding that a helicopter has been flying above the city.

"Walls have been put up, there are barriers and anti-riot policemen who prevent people from reaching the city center so that they don’t smash everything as they did last night," the eyewitness said, adding that the previous night "up to 300 people reached the city center and started to smash [things] there.”

"There are [police] controls almost everywhere. The prefect has advised the inhabitants to stay home," Fleurence said.

The reform will allow employers to negotiate longer working hours and lower overtime pay – a measure that has angered French labor unions.

It has only been a couple of months since the movement against the labor reforms was launched, but some of the rallies have been violent. In April, over 20 demonstrators were injured in Rennes, and police used have tear gas to disperse protests all over the country.

READ MORE: French govt forces labor bill without parliament approval, faces no-confidence vote

Fresh protests in April drew comparison with the Occupy movement in the US. The rallies have taken place all over France: in Paris, Marseille, Rouen, Rennes, Toulouse, and other cities.

The movement’s Facebook page now has more than 140,000 followers.