French President François Hollande said Thursday he would stand firm on controversial labor reforms that have given rise to civil disobedience in several cities across the country. Sections of protestors turned violent in Paris shortly after Hollande was questioned on national television about the bill , local media reports said.
The labor reforms, aimed at loosening protections governing France's 35-hour work week and layoffs to increase employment, have been seen by many in Hollande's left-wing base as a betrayal of France’s worker protections. The reforms have sparked weeks-long protests across the country while French officials tinker with the proposal to make it more acceptable to worker unions.
Late Thursday, employee unions and student organizations joined forces and clashed with riot police in Paris. Seven officers and four protesters were injured in the ensuing scuffles, the French Police reportedly said. Riot police used tear gas to disperse protesters near Paris’s Stalingrad Metro Station and charged protesters who entered the Gare du Nord train station, reports said.
However, Hollande has insisted that the bill “won’t be withdrawn”
"I have undertaken policies that are producing results now and that will continue to produce results," Hollande reportedly told French TV viewers. "I ask to be judged on the issue of unemployment."
Under the proposed reforms, France’s 35-hour work week rule would be preserved, but companies would also be permitted to organize alternative working times, including a working week of up to 48 hours and 12-hour days , the Deutsche Welle (DW) reported.
The proposal has also affected Hollande's popularity with the general public. An opinion poll by private channel BFMTV showed 87 percent of voters had an unfavorable view of Hollande’s four years in the presidency , according to DW.