French police clash with students demonstrating in Paris over proposed overhaul of labour code

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High school students throwing stones and eggs clashed with French police who responded with a violent crackdown in Paris on Tuesday in the latest round of protests against the government's labour reforms.

Several hundred gathered in the east of the capital to march towards a larger demonstration planned by unions, but the protest turned violent when students - many of them masked - turned on the ranks of police who were out in force.

Students were dispersed with teargas as police attacked them with battons and made a number of arrests.

Anti-riot police officers arrest a man during clashes within a demonstration of high school students protesting against the government's planned labour reform, on April 5, 2016 in eastern Paris.
Anti-riot police officers arrest a man during clashes within a demonstration of high school students protesting against the government's planned labour reform, on April 5, 2016 in eastern Paris.

Objects were thrown. At least one police officer was knocked to the ground and several arrests were made.

The latest demonstration follows several weeks of protests as the Socialist government attempts to pass a labour law which has split the country and its own ranks.

President Francois Hollande and his ministers say the reforms will encourage companies to hire, reducing France's high unemployment rate, but opponents say they are a dangerous attack on safeguards which protect employees.

The bill is up in front of a committee of lawmakers on Tuesday.

University students protest against the government's planned labour reform on April 5, 2016 in Paris.
University students protest against the government's planned labour reform on April 5, 2016 in Paris.

High schooler Simon said there was more at stake than a weekly tug of war with the police.

"We're here because of our convictions. We're not just here to smash stuff up and beat up the police, we're here because we want to be heard and we'll stay here," he said before the violence erupted.

Anti-riot police officers (L) clash with high school students on Boulevard Diderot in eastern Paris on April 5, 2016 in Paris during a protest against the government's planned labour reform.
Anti-riot police officers (L) clash with high school students on Boulevard Diderot in eastern Paris on April 5, 2016 in Paris during a protest against the government's planned labour reform.

Marion Gandjean attends an artistic high school and she said whilst there was much to be admired in the law, it needed to offer better protection to workers.

"I think in the labour law we need as much freedom as possible so we can work as we want but you need to support employees as much as possible. We don't have any help any more and that's the most important thing in France, it's what marks us out," she said.

Protesters raise their hands in front of French anti riot police on April 5, 2016 in Nantes, western France, during a protest against the French government's planned labour reforms.
Protesters raise their hands in front of French anti riot police on April 5, 2016 in Nantes, western France, during a protest against the French government's planned labour reforms.

Hollande's government watered down the initial labour reform proposal shortly before it was unveiled last month by ditching a clause that would have capped severance pay awards.

Some economists criticise the French system for creating a divide between older people with open-ended work contracts and first-timers condemned to move between short-term jobs.

Anti-riot police officers (R) clash with high school students during a demonstration against the government's planned labour reform, on April 5, 2016 in eastern Paris.
Anti-riot police officers (R) clash with high school students during a demonstration against the government's planned labour reform, on April 5, 2016 in eastern Paris.
Source: TRT World