Masked youths smashed windows and hurled stones at riot police who used teargas and water cannons to disperse angry protesters.

Masked youths face off with French police and gendarmes during a demonstration in Paris as part of nationwide protests against plans to reform French labour laws, France, June 14, 2016.
Masked youths face off with French police and gendarmes during a demonstration in Paris as part of nationwide protests against plans to reform French labour laws, France, June 14, 2016.

Thousands of protesters opposing the French government's planned labour reforms clashed with riot police who used teargas and water cannons to break up the rally through the streets of Paris on Tuesday.

Today's protest is the latest in a series of similar demonstrations staged since early March against France's plan to change the country's labour laws that would make hiring and firing easier.

Masked youths smashed windows and hurled stones at riot police who fired dozens of volleys of teargas and used water cannon to disperse highly charged groups of mostly black-clad youths.

Masked youths and French police clash during a demonstration in Paris as part of nationwide protests against plans to reform French labour laws, France, June 14, 2016.
Masked youths and French police clash during a demonstration in Paris as part of nationwide protests against plans to reform French labour laws, France, June 14, 2016.

The police department reported 13 arrests in the early stages of a street march led by labour unions.

In view of previous clashes with demonstrators, Paris police banned 130 perceived would-be troublemakers before Tuesday's rally even began.

Tuesday's march comes at a time when police are stretched to ensure security during the month-long Euro 2016 football tournament.

French CRS riot police and gendarmes apprehend a demonstrator in clashes during a demonstration in Paris as part of nationwide protests against plans to reform French labour laws, France, June 14, 2016.
French CRS riot police and gendarmes apprehend a demonstrator in clashes during a demonstration in Paris as part of nationwide protests against plans to reform French labour laws, France, June 14, 2016.

France has remained on maximum alert since the Paris attacks that killed 130 people in November last year.

The CGT labour union, one of the major confederations of trade unions in France, said the march would be the biggest show of strength since protests over the planned labour reform began in early March.

"This is not the end," CGT leader Philippe Martinez said. "The struggle is far from over."

Masked youths with labour union flags are seen during clashes with French gendarmes and riot police during a demonstration in Paris as part of nationwide protests against plans to reform French labour laws, France, June 14, 2016.
Masked youths with labour union flags are seen during clashes with French gendarmes and riot police during a demonstration in Paris as part of nationwide protests against plans to reform French labour laws, France, June 14, 2016.

About 700 buses ferried protesters to the capital from all over France for the march, Martinez said. Smaller protests were being staged in other cities.

Earlier, workers stopped work at the state-owned SNCF rail company. However, the company said disruption was far less than at the outset of a rolling strike two weeks ago or on previous occasions this year.

Ninety percent of high-speed connections were operating and other services were working at about 70 percent, the SNCF said.

The CGT union and the smaller Force Ouvriere union argue that the reform will undermine standards of labour protection.

The government and the large CFDT union argue the contrary, saying it will help tackle a jobless rate of 10 percent and also develop labour representation at a grassroots level.

Youth unemployment is about 24 percent in France.

President Francois Hollande's socialist government has refused to withdraw the reform. It forced the reform through the lower house of parliament by a decree last month and aims to make it a law by July.

Opinion polls have suggested as many as 80 percent of voters are unhappy with the reform but they also suggest the protest movement no longer enjoys the backing of a majority of the French people.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies