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More than 220,000 protesters have taken part in marches across France against Emmanuel Macron’s labour reforms, with some clashes breaking out.

Observers says that despite the massive numbers, the turnout is lower than it has been at other protests in France in the last few years.

The day of strikes and rallies organised by unions and left-wing activists is being seen as the recently victorious French President’s first major domestic test.

Policemen detain a protester in Nantes

Image: Policemen detain a protester in Nantes

About 4,000 strikes and 180 protests were called by France’s biggest union, the CGT.

It urged rail workers, students and civil servants to demonstrate against Mr Macron’s plans to make France more attractive for local companies and foreign investors.

A French riot officer and a protester square up as clashes break out on the streets of Paris

Image: A French riot officer and a protester square up as clashes break out on the streets of Paris

Changes Mr Macron wants to bring in will give firms with more flexibility when negotiating terms and conditions with their employees and reduce the costs of firing workers.

The 39-year-old President angered his opponents last week when he said critics of his government were “slackers, cynics and extremists”.

Tens of thousands of people take to the streets of Paris to demonstrate against Emmanuel Macron's labour reforms

Image: Tens of thousands of people take to the streets of Paris

On Tuesday, protesters seized on the remark with some daubing the word on banners and placards.

Others shouted: “Macron you’re screwed, the slackers are in the street.”

Police unleash a water cannon on protesters in Paris

Image: Police unleash a water cannon on protesters in Paris

Police used tear gas to contain protesters in Nantes.

In Paris, video pictures showed waves of heavily armed police clashing with masked protesters, some of whom also carried batons.

A protester is dragged away by police during protests over labour laws

Image: A protester is dragged away by police during protests over labour laws

Running battles took place on the city’s streets, with authorities eventually deploying water cannon in an attempt to bring about order.

In Marseille, protesters were joined by French far-left politician Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Riot police hold their shields to protect themselves from rocks thrown by protesters

Image: Riot police hold their shields to protect themselves from rocks thrown by protesters

Mr Melenchon, who fronts the ‘France Unbowed’ movement, said the President took a strategic decision to insult protesters with his “slackers” comments.

The government plans to adopt the new measures, by decree, on 22 September.

French protesters throw rocks at police in clashes over labour laws

Image: French protesters throw rocks at police in clashes over labour laws

Mr Macron was in Guadeloupe, dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, when the protests took place.

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