Over 350,000 people took to the streets of the French capital on Tuesday to protest the planned pension reforms, according to figures provided by the CGT trade union. Police put the Paris numbers at 76,000, and said around 615,000 marched nationwide.
The demonstration promptly became heated, escalating into clashes between protesters and law enforcement.
Footage from the scene shows crowds engulfed in thick plumes of tear gas, while riot police repeatedly charge groups of demonstrators with batons drawn.
At least 27 people were detained in Paris and one officer was injured, police told BFMTV.
For almost two weeks, France has been enduring mass protests and strikes against planned pension system changes. Emmanuel Macron’s government insists that the reforms –which will see some 40 pension plans merged into one– is designed to simplify the pension system, making it more transparent. The trade unions, however, argue that the legislation is a rip-off, and simply strips workers of their hard-earned benefits.
Despite the protests, the French government said last week it would still proceed with the controversial reforms. The government’s comments prompted an angry reaction from the unions, who said the government had crossed a “red line” with its persistence in moving ahead with the reform plan.
The anti-pension-reform marches were marred by scuffles at other locations across France as well; things got particularly heated in the northwestern city of Rennes. Footage from the scene shows police charging a procession of protesters and afterwards deploying an intense amount of tear gas, which blanketed the streets.