Demonstrations by France’s youth against the government’s new labour laws have left several injured and a hundred protesters detained by police. Most of the violence occurred in the capital where activists described as “hardcore” confronted officers. After some students had taken down road signs and smashed car windows, aggression was met with tear gas and riot battons.
But the violence was mostly confined to Paris. Tens of thousands of school pupils and students marched through the streets of several major French cities, from Lille to Lyon without incident. They are protesting against what is known as the CPE, a new government measure aimed at reducing youth unemployment. But while the contract will make it easier for employers to hire it will also be easy to fire. One student said they had massive support from workers, which bodes well for a big day of action on Saturday. With one in four young people without work in France, the government has promised to tackle the problem of youth unemployment. Not everyone is against the CPE, however. One young man said: “I think we must give it a chance to see how it works before we reject it. We must try it first.” The government has offered a six-monthly review of the law to defuse tensions. But this does not appear to have changed plans for more rallies at the weekend.