Wednesday, June 15, 2016
France's prime minister has condemned violence stemming from a labor protest that saw windows at a children's hospital smashed. He called on labor unions to put an end to the protests that have hit France for weeks.
A day after a small group of people on the fringe of an otherwise peaceful labor protest clashed with police and broke windows at a Paris children's hospital, Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called on unions to cease holding protests in the French capital.
Speaking from the Necker children's hospital on Wednesday, Valls said it was "intolerable" that the destruction would be directed at a hospital. Dozens of people were arrested, and several police officers were hurt in the clashes.
"No one can ignore that this is a hospital," he said in an interview with French media. "Behind these windows is an operating room."
He added that he had called on the CGT labor union, which is behind many strikes and protests in France, to stop organizing "these types of demonstrations in Paris."
French President Francois Hollande indicated that a ban on protests was a possibility.
"At a time when France is hosting the Euro (football tournament), when it is faced with terrorism, demonstrations can no longer be authorized if property and people and public property cannot be safeguarded," said Stephane Le Foll, a spokesperson for Hollande, in a cabinet meeting.
The protests are directed at government labor reforms that affect companies' ability to hire and fire workers as well as the length of the work week. Valls vowed to stand firm on the reforms despite the massive backlash from workers in the form of strikes and protests.
"The government will not change a text which is already the outcome of a compromise sealed several months ago with reform-minded unions," Valls said on France Inter radio.
Critics say the reforms unfairly benefit businesses, and CGT leader Philippe Martinez said Tuesday "the struggle is far from over."