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France

Dozens arrested as Labour reform protest turns violent

media Police clash with protesters during March 31 demonstration again the proposed labour law AFP/ Thomas Samson

Paris riot police on Tuesday fired tear gas and charged youths throwing stones, bottles and eggs during fresh protests against France's proposed labour reforms, making over 100 arrests."Police everywhere, justice nowhere", hooded youths shouted as shopkeepers in the area rolled down their shutters

Police said 130 people were arrested on the sidelines of the march.

Students have been in the forefront of a wave of sometimes violent protests over the Socialist government's labour reforms seen as too pro-business and unlikely to achieve their stated goal of reining in unemployment, which stands at 25 percent among young people.

Students barricaded dozens of high schools across France, but fewer than in previous protests.

Student leader Pierre Monquet noted that the exam period is approaching and said the group was seeking permission to stage debates on the labour reforms in high schools.

The Socialist government is desperate to push through reforms to France's controversial labour laws, billed as a last-gasp attempt to boost the flagging economy before next year's presidential election.

Unions and students are angry over the plans to make it easier for struggling companies to fire workers, even though the reforms have already been diluted once in a bid to placate critics.

Tuesday's protests come as a parliamentary committee began debating the labour bill, with more protests set for Saturday.

In between, several ministers including Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem have agreed to meet with youth groups.

In the southern city of Marseille, protesters overturned rubbish bins and threw eggs during a demonstration that drew around 1,500 according to police

Last Thursday some 400,000 people protested across France and students forced the closure of some 200 schools.

 

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