Firefighters and police battle on the streets of Paris: Riot cops engage in bitter fighting with protesters demanding better pay and conditions
- Baton-wielding officers clash in a bitter row with firefighters in Paris today
- Firemen were in the city to protest against Macron’s planned pension reforms
- ‘The police responded with tear gas, and then went in with their batons. The fighting got very ugly,’ said one eye witness
Fighting broke out between riot police and firefighters who were trying to break down security screens during anti-government protests in Paris today.
Videos of the astonishing violence were posted online during demonstrations close to the centre of the capital.
They clearly show baton-wielding CRS (Republican Security Companies) officers involved in bitter fighting with firefighters, who were demanding better pay and conditions.
‘The firefighters were very militant, and at one stage tried to push down police barriers,’ said an eyewitness.
‘The police responded with tear gas, and then went in with their batons. The fighting got very ugly.’
A French CRS riot policeman helps a colleague during a demonstration by French firefighters to protest against working conditions, in Paris today
The worst trouble took place soon after 4pm in the Avenue de la Republique, between Republique and Nation squares.
The fire fighters had tried to tear down the barriers close to the Paris ring road, because they wanted to expand their marching route.
A spokesman for the Paris prefecture said: ‘It was unacceptable blocking of the ring road by certain professional firefighters who do not respect the declared route [of their protest march].’
Some of the protesting firemen even set their uniforms on fire while they were wearing them, although they were clearly taking safety measures.
There have been continual street protests and strikes in France for the past six weeks in protests against new pension reforms being introduced by President Emmanuel Macron’s government.
So-called Yellow Vests, demonstrators named after their trademark fluorescent motoring jackets, have also been on the street since November 2018.
They started off complaining about rising fuel charges, but are now a mass movement who want Mr Macron to resign.
The independent Mr Macron came to power in 2017, pledging to shrink France’s public services, and to make the private sector more competitive.
But the former merchant banker is now frequently referred to as the ‘President of the Rich’ who is mainly on the side of big business.