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16 Jun, 2020 15:17

Paris police clash with protesters at health workers’ rally, firing tear gas (VIDEO)

Paris police clash with protesters at health workers’ rally, firing tear gas (VIDEO)

France’s healthcare workers have been marching for better pay and increased funding. As demonstrators thronged the streets of Paris, violent clashes between protesters and police broke out, with tear gas fired into the crowds.

Hailed as “heroes in white coats” by President Emmanuel Macron at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, France’s health-sector employees assembled en masse on Tuesday to demand more than just applause and platitudes. Calling for salary raises and an end to hospital-bed cuts, one powerful union taking part said that “the government’s soothing speeches, chocolate medals and promises of random and hypothetical bonuses will not suffice.”

In Paris, an estimated several thousand workers descended on the Ministry of Health. Elsewhere in the city, clashes broke out between ‘black bloc’ militants and the lines of riot police who showed up to keep order.

These more violent demonstrators hurled bottles and fireworks at the police, who responded by firing tear gas at the mob, some of whom flipped vehicles and set fires.

The protesters appeared divided between the healthcare workers chanting slogans and waving banners, and the militants hurling projectiles at the police. Police officers at more peaceful demonstrations across the country stood by and applauded the healthcare workers, rather than firing gas or brandishing batons. Members from among their own ranks were prompted to march themselves last year, to protest President Macron’s controversial pension reforms.

The procession in Lille was joined by firefighters, who also took to the streets to demand a pay increase earlier this year. 

More than 220 rallies were planned nationwide, organized by a dozen unions and workers’ associations. The demonstrations come after a massive Black Lives Matter march took place in Paris on Saturday. Around 15,000 people – as well as some counter-demonstrators, who unveiled a banner denouncing ‘Anti-White Racism’ – showed up, and riot police used tear gas to disperse the crowds.

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