Today has been dubbed “Black Tuesday” in France because of a general strike. Commuters face chaos with rail employees now on a 36-hour stoppage. The action also targets air travel. Despite that, a reduced service is in operation. Unions and student groups says more than 130 demonstrations are planned across the country to get Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin to backtrack on his youth jobs reform.
Paris police say their job is to crack down on troublemakers. “We are carrying out more checks. There will be more police in the Paris area, monitoring public transport. We’ll try to intercept gangs before they arrive at the starting point of a protest or from arriving in Paris,” a police statement said. Today’s protests will be the sixth in two weeks. Some have turned violent with youths throwing bottles and rocks at police, cars have been burned and student demonstrators have been mugged by hardcore elements. The government has asked trade unions and student groups for talks to agree amendments to the jobs reform. Two powerful unions, the FO and CFDT, have said No. Along with student groups they want the proposed law withdrawn – pure and simple.