Unions Riot Over French Privatization Plans

French union workers threw stones, firecrackers and flares during a riot today in Corsica.

Police face youths during a demonstration against the privatisation of state-owned troubled transporter SNCM. (AFP)

A union rally on the French island of Corsica got ugly as youths threw stones, flares and firecrackers at police. I rocket blast blew a hole in a boat in the harbor:

Late Saturday, a huge explosion echoed through the port in the northern town of Bastia, and a reporter saw a gaping entry hole near the helm of the 82-foot customs boat indicating a rocket attack. No one was injured.

Earlier in the day, at least 2,000 protesters swarmed into the streets into the northern Corsican city of Bastia — with a huge contingent of 500 police on hand to keep order. The march marked the first time that unions had come together in a united protest in Corsica in 15 years. Organizers said at least 9,000 people marched.

At the end of the mostly peaceful march, riot police guarding a government office building fired tear gas at about 50 youths who had pelted the officers with firecrackers, stones and flares. One officer was hospitalized with severe head injuries, officials said.

Street signs were torn from the ground, and the windows on at least 15 parked cars were broken after the melee between police and the youths.


A map of France shows Corsica out in the Mediterranium to the east.

This is the first time that unions have come together for a protest on the island:

The workers’ protests began after the government announced its privatization plans on Monday, and have blended with Corsica’s long-simmering independence movement, which has mostly involved low-level violence by organized crime gangs and separatists.

Late Saturday, a huge explosion echoed through the port in the northern town of Bastia, and a reporter saw a gaping entry hole near the helm of the 82-foot customs boat indicating a rocket attack. No one was injured.

Earlier in the day, at least 2,000 protesters swarmed into the streets into the northern Corsican city of Bastia with a huge contingent of 500 police on hand to keep order. The march marked the first time that unions had come together in a united protest in Corsica in 15 years. Organizers said at least 9,000 people marched.

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