France: Flights cancelled as Black Tuesday" protests turn violent
Jan 27, Paris: Paris police fire tear gas as "Black Tuesday" protesters, including taxi drivers, block roads and throw smoke bombs.
French taxi unions are staging a nationwide protest against Uber and the government over working conditions and competition from non-traditional services such as Uber.
The protests started early on Tuesday and have shut down much of Paris, according to France 24. Over 1,200 cars are were used to block the streets.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls agreed to an emergency meeting with taxi drivers on Tuesday afternoon, in an apparent attempt to defuse tensions.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled as air traffic controllers joined civil servants, hospital workers and teachers for the day of strikes.
At Orly airport, one protester was injured in the leg when a shuttle bus forced its way through a blockade. Police said the bus driver was arrested, media reports said.
About 300 taxi drivers, furious over upstart competitors such as Uber, blocked the capital's ring road at a key intersection in the west of the city, lighting fires and throwing smoke bombs.
Spokesman of the Taxis de France collective Ibrahima Sylla said, "Today our survival is at stake, we are fed up of meetings and negotiations."
Nineteen protesters were arrested from a total of 1,200 drivers on strike around the capital, police said.
Air France said it would operate all its long-haul flights and more than 80 percent of its short and medium-haul flights in France and elsewhere in Europe, but that "last-minute delays or cancellations cannot be ruled out."
Budget airline Ryanair said that it had cancelled more than 200 flights, and EasyJet had cut 35 flights, mostly within France but also affecting Italy, Switzerland and Spain.
France banned Uber's low-cost UberPOP service - which used unlicensed drivers - a year ago, but taxi dispatchers in Paris say business has still shrunk by 20 to 30 percent.
The striking unions - who led up to 120 demonstrations across France on what the daily Le Parisien newspaper dubbed "Black Tuesday" - also claim they are protesting against job losses totalling some 150,000 since 2007 and say the hospital sector is especially in need of new jobs
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