Striking French firefighters faced off against riot police who deployed water cannons and smoke grenades, and erected large metal barriers to block off the fire service as they protested in Paris on Tuesday.
Several thousand firefighters protested understaffing, the threat to their government pensions and a lack of recognition of their work, including risk premiums that match those of the police and the gendarmerie.
Police decried the fact that many protesting firefighters had abandoned the prearranged route, and it didn’t take long before the march descended into clashes with riot police.
Police repeatedly deployed a variety of crowd control grenades despite several controversies stemming from their use against both the Yellow Vest protesters and the pension reform protesters.
At one point, multiple firefighters symbolically set themselves on fire in protest at government pension reforms.
Professional firefighters represent just 16 percent of the 247,000 firefighters in France, with the remainder comprising volunteers and military personnel. Tuesday’s march was the second national demonstration by the professional firefighters unions in less than four months; the strike movement began back in June 2019 after proposed reforms to the national pension scheme were announced.
Les pompiers en grève s’immolent symboliquement cet après-midi à Paris pour protester contre la réforme des retraites et le manque de moyens pic.twitter.com/lcJ1IaX2BT
— Victor Laby (@VictorLaby_) January 28, 2020
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