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France's yellow vest protesters join union march, a first

Published
Demonstrators wearing yellow vests take part to a demonstration called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Lille, northern France. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

PARIS (AP) — France's yellow vest protest movement joined ranks Tuesday with a major union, a first for both, in a day of nationwide protests over taxes and buying power that brought tens of thousands into the streets.

Brief scuffles marked the mostly calm Paris demonstration. Police fired several rounds of tear gas, clearing troublemakers from the Place de la Concorde, which borders the U.S. Embassy.

Tear gas was also used in Lille and elsewhere. However, tension was minimal compared with the weekly protests held since mid-November by the yellow vest movement to demand fiscal and social justice in a major challenge to President Emmanuel Macron.

As protesters marched, lawmakers in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, voted 387-92 to pass a bill aimed at preventing violence during protests, and helping authorities maintain order. The bill would, for instance, authorize regional prefects to prevent people seen as a serious threat to public order from protesting, or force protesters involved in violence to pay for damage.

The bill, which must go before the Senate, would also make it a crime for protesters to conceal their faces — a common occurrence during Saturday protests by the yellow vest movement, by both those trying to offset the effects of tear gas and by troublemakers concealing their identities.

Meanwhile, the Communist-backed CGT union marched from Paris City Hall to the Place de la Concorde side-by-side with protesters from the yellow vest movement, which takes its name from the safety vests they wear that are required in all cars.

Union chief Philippe Martinez cheered the hand-in-hand protests with the yellow vests, promising daily initiatives and "something big" each Tuesday. He noted overlapping demands between his union and yellow vest protesters.

"There's no reason why we shouldn't demonstrate next to each other or one behind another. What's important is that our first day together is a success, in the middle of the week," he said.

"I find business leaders have it easy and it's time we hold big company bosses in this country accountable," Martinez said.

The grassroots yellow vest movement has no anointed leader and an array of demands. However, increasing buying power and ending what they perceive as favoritism toward the powerful at the expense of the less fortunate are leading demands.

___

Alex Turnbull and Sylvie Corbet contributed to this report.

A yellow vest protestor rides a bicycle as police officers block with a fence the access of the Champs Elysee avenue on Place of Concorde during a demonstration called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Paris. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Yellow vest protestors holding a French flag with a yellow banner stand in tear gas during a demonstration called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Paris. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
A demonstrator returns a tear gas grenade during a demonstration called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Lille, northern France. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
A yellow vest protestor with
Demonstrators wearing yellow vests take part to a demonstration called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Paris. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
A demonstrator wearing a yellow vests reading
Demonstrators hold a banner during a protest called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Paris. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Yellow vest protesters join unionists from the CGT (General Working Confederation) during a demonstration in Marseille, southern France, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. French public workers are striking in protest against French President Emmanuel Macron's policies and demonstrations are taking place across the country with the CGT labor union calling for a general strike. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Unionist from the CGT (General Working Confederation) and yellow vest protesters march side by side in Marseille, southern France, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. French public workers are striking in protest against French President Emmanuel Macron's policies and demonstrations are taking place across the country with the CGT labor union calling for a general strike. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Unionist from the CGT (General Working Confederation) Mourad, left, and Yellow Vest protester Daniel pose together during a march in Marseille, southern France, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. French public workers are striking in protest against French President Emmanuel Macron's policies and demonstrations are taking place across the country with the CGT labor union calling for a general strike. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Unionists from the CGT (General Working Confederation) cast their shadow during a march in Marseille, southern France, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. French public workers are striking in protest against French President Emmanuel Macron's policies and demonstrations are taking place across the country with the CGT labor union calling for a general strike. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Demonstrators hold a banner during a protest called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Paris. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Demonstrators hold a banner during a protest called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Paris. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Demonstrators wearing yellow vests take part to a demonstration called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Lille, northern France. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
Demonstrators wearing yellow vests take part to a demonstration called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Lille, northern France. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
Unionist from the CGT (General Working Confederation) and yellow vest protesters march side by side in Marseille, southern France, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. French public workers are striking in protest against French President Emmanuel Macron's policies and demonstrations are taking place across the country with the CGT labor union calling for a general strike. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Unionist from the CGT (General Working Confederation) and yellow vest protesters march side by side in Marseille, southern France, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. French public workers are striking in protest against French President Emmanuel Macron's policies and demonstrations are taking place across the country with the CGT labor union calling for a general strike. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Unionists from the CGT (General Working Confederation) cast their shadow during a march in Marseille, southern France, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. French public workers are striking in protest against French President Emmanuel Macron's policies and demonstrations are taking place across the country with the CGT labor union calling for a general strike. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Unionists from the CGT (General Working Confederation) cast their shadow during a march in Marseille, southern France, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. French public workers are striking in protest against French President Emmanuel Macron's policies and demonstrations are taking place across the country with the CGT labor union calling for a general strike. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Yellow vest protesters join unionists from the CGT (General Working Confederation) during a demonstration in Marseille, southern France, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. French public workers are striking in protest against French President Emmanuel Macron's policies and demonstrations are taking place across the country with the CGT labor union calling for a general strike. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Yellow vest protesters join unionists from the CGT (General Working Confederation) during a demonstration in Marseille, southern France, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. French public workers are striking in protest against French President Emmanuel Macron's policies and demonstrations are taking place across the country with the CGT labor union calling for a general strike. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Unionist from the CGT (General Working Confederation) Mourad, left, and Yellow Vest protester Daniel pose together during a march in Marseille, southern France, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. French public workers are striking in protest against French President Emmanuel Macron's policies and demonstrations are taking place across the country with the CGT labor union calling for a general strike. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Unionist from the CGT (General Working Confederation) Mourad, left, and Yellow Vest protester Daniel pose together during a march in Marseille, southern France, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. French public workers are striking in protest against French President Emmanuel Macron's policies and demonstrations are taking place across the country with the CGT labor union calling for a general strike. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
A yellow vest protestor with
A yellow vest protestor with "Peace" written on the vest and holding a French flag faces a police water canon truck during a demonstration called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Paris. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Demonstrators wearing yellow vests take part to a demonstration called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Paris. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Demonstrators wearing yellow vests take part to a demonstration called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Paris. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Yellow vest protestors holding a French flag with a yellow banner stand in tear gas during a demonstration called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Paris. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Yellow vest protestors holding a French flag with a yellow banner stand in tear gas during a demonstration called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Paris. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
A yellow vest protestor rides a bicycle as police officers block with a fence the access of the Champs Elysee avenue on Place of Concorde during a demonstration called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Paris. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
A yellow vest protestor rides a bicycle as police officers block with a fence the access of the Champs Elysee avenue on Place of Concorde during a demonstration called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Paris. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
A demonstrator wearing a yellow vests reading
A demonstrator wearing a yellow vests reading "Macron, Santa Claus for the rich, ennemy of the French people" takes part to a demonstration called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Paris. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
A demonstrator returns a tear gas grenade during a demonstration called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Lille, northern France. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
A demonstrator returns a tear gas grenade during a demonstration called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 in Lille, northern France. Workers, public servants, and retired people were invited to march during a strike called by the CGT (General Working Confederation) union. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)