Thousands took to the streets throughout France on Tuesday evening after the government bypassed a parliamentary vote on a controversial labor reform and approved it with an edict.
The French cabinet gave Prime Minister Manuel Valls the green light to use a rarely-invoked article of the constitution to bypass parliament and forcibly implement controversial labour reforms.
Protests against the reforms, and the use of Article 49.3, flooded social media, showing mass demonstrations in several cities across France
Cashes erupted with police who used pepper spray against protesters.
The crowd gathered outside the National Assembly building in Paris held placards reading “Democracy, where are you?” and earlier quotes from President Francois Hollande condemning the very article of the constitution used by his government on Tuesday.
Earlier that afternoon, inside the lower chamber of parliament, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said he was invoking Article 49.3 of the constitution “to move France forward,” and put an end to “political posturing from an obstructionist minority.”
As more and more activists streamed in from parts of the French capital, a heavy police cordon surrounded the National Assembly. Activists claimed on social media that police had been using tear gas, and preventing new demonstrators from joining in the swelling the crowd.
While the central protest was organized largely online, and by the upstart Nuit Debout, a months-old grassroots movement in the mold of Occupy, and embodying the student spirit of the 1968 protests, elsewhere, unions were out in force.
Members of the CGT union, which represents railway industry workers, marched from Montparnesse station brandishing red flares.
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