France labour dispute: wave of strike action nationwide

Oil refineries, nuclear power plants and transport hubs were hit, motorways and bridges were blocked and protesters clashed with police.

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Industrial action over labour law reforms is gripping France nationwide, with oil refineries, nuclear power stations and transport hubs affected, reports the BBC.

Motorways and bridges were blocked and flights delayed while clashes erupted with police in Paris and other cities.

Prime minister Manuel Valls insists the reforms will not be withdrawn but has suggested they could be "modified".

The action, building over three months, comes two weeks before France hosts the Euro 2016 football championships.

A state of emergency imposed after November's deadly attack by militants from the co-called Islamic State group in Paris remains in place.

The CGT union is leading the action, supported by six other unions including Force Ouvriere and Unef, whereas the more moderate CFDT union backs the labour reforms.

Dozens of people broke away from a demonstration in Paris on Thursday and set about smashing shop windows and parked cars in a side street.

Masked youths hurled bottles at police, who responded with tear gas.

Elsewhere in France on Thursday:

  • Clashes broke out in the eastern city Lyon after a march by at least 3,300 protesters
  • In the port city of Le Havre, in Normandy, hundreds of workers took to the streets after blocking off a major bridge
  • Riot police held back protesters in the central city of Tours
  • Demonstrators invaded high-speed railway lines in the western city of Rennes
  • Protest marches were reported in the southern cities of Marseille, Montpellier and Bordeaux

Read more of this report from the BBC.

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