eiffel tower
The Eiffel Tower, one of the most iconic landmark in the City of Paris, France. Tour Eiffel / Facebook

French riot police clashed with protesting firefighters who demand better pay and improved working conditions. The demonstration turned violent as various video footages circulating on social media show police to using batons and tear gas on the protesters, the Independent reported.

The protesting firefighters might have initially caused the violent clash. “The firefighters were very militant, and at one stage tried to push down police barriers,” an eyewitness said, according to Daily Mail.

The worst clash happened between Republique and Nation squares in the Avenue de la Republique after 4 pm. The protesting firefighters attempted to expand their marching route by tearing down the barriers near the Paris ring road.

The police had to respond because the area the protesters tried to break into is not included in their route. “It was unacceptable blocking of the ring road by certain professional firefighters who do not respect the declared route [of their protest march],” a spokesman for the Paris prefecture explained.

Riot police had to use other means to disperse protesters in other areas. For instance, they used water cannon to disperse a group of rallying firefighter who tried to scale the fencing new the Nation area of Paris.

The firefighters have been protesting for the past six weeks against the pension reforms implemented by President Emmanuel Macron’s government. Some firemen even set their uniforms on fire while still wearing them to draw attention to their demands.

Firefighters are demanding an increase in risk pay from the current 19 percent to 28 percent of their basic salary. They also demanded that the current pension scheme remain the same.

“We are the last link in emergency services in France, and we are overwhelmed by calls and interventions,” SPASDIS-CFTC union president Frédéric Perrin told the news agency Agence France-Presse.

“We need more manpower and the means to respond to it, but also the guarantee that we focus mainly on our missions, the emergency, and not serve as supplements to absent health services,” Perrin added.

Meanwhile, the French police urged protesters on social media to follow established rules. “Respect for the rules applies to everyone, no matter the nature of the protest,” Préfecture de Police @prefpolice tweeted.

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