Police evacuate protesters at Paris' Republique square

AP News
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Posted: Apr 11, 2016 8:31 AM
Police evacuate protesters at Paris' Republique square

PARIS (AP) — French police on Monday evacuated protesters angry over labor reforms who have been gathering at Paris' Republique square over the past 11 nights, ordering them to tear down structures set up on the iconic plaza.

Paris police said the evacuation, which took place after some protesters rioted over the weekend, went without incident.

Police officers supervised the removal of tents and banners installed by the protesters, who started their Occupy-like movement to oppose a government push to loosen the 35-hour workweek and make it easier for companies to lay off workers.

Demonstrators are, however, planning to resume their sit-in on Monday night. They argue that the reform is a gift to big business that threatens France's hard-fought worker protections.

Police made eight arrests on Saturday night after about 300 demonstrators went on a rampage across the capital, attacking a police building, damaging cars and vandalizing bank offices. It was not clear whether they had any affiliation to the so-called "Night Rising" group that started the square's occupation.

Trying to ease the tensions that have been growing over the labor law proposal, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls met with youth organizations a few hours after the evacuation on Monday morning and announced a plan aimed at improving youth access to employment worth between 400 million and 500 million euros ($455-$570 million).

Among the main measures are extra taxes imposed on short-term contracts, a move that should lead employers to offer permanent deals to youngsters looking for a first real job.

According to French government figures, 87 percent of initial work contracts in France are signed on a temporary basis.

William Martinet, the leader of students union UNEF, welcomed the proposals as "important measures for the young."

He insisted, however, that the proposed overhaul of France's labor code "still isn't a good bill," adding that his organization is still calling for another day of action across France on April 28.