PARIS (AP) — French police clashed with protesters rejecting labor law changes in several cities Saturday, sending clouds of tear gas across the Place de la Nation in Paris and torrents of water against demonstrators in Nantes.
Several rallies were marred by violence amid nationwide protests against the labor reforms being championed by the country's Socialist government.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Paris to protest the changes to the rules governing layoffs and France's 35-hour workweek. Officials hope the changes will inject some flexibility into the country's stagnant labor market but many workers fear it will do little more than weaken the nation's generous social protections.
Local media counted at least 200 demonstrations across France, including a march in Paris kicking off from Place de la Republique, home to a round-the-clock Occupy Wall Street-style sit-in in reaction to the reforms.
Paris police said three officers were injured in the clashes.
French television broadcast scenes from the western cities of Nantes, where authorities deployed a water cannon to disperse protesters, and Rennes, where police faced off against gas mask-wearing, shield-wielding rioters clad all in black, firing flash-bangs and sound grenades.
Continued unrest over the labor plans is piling the pressure on France's ruling Socialists, who have already been forced to retreat over security plans to pull the citizenship of dual nationals convicted of terrorism.