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Watch: Protests in Paris Against French Labor Law Descend Into Clashes

Schools across France were paralyzed and traffic was disrupted as students and workers went on strike. VICE News is there and broadcasting on Facebook.
March 31, 2016, 3:55pm
Imagen por Etienne Rouillon/VICE News

French students and workers took to the streets again Thursday to protest the government's proposed labor reforms. In Paris, clashes broke out as small groups of masked individuals mingled with the otherwise peaceful procession, throwing stones and firecrackers at the police.

We're live in Paris with students protesting worker's rights.

Posted by VICE News on Thursday, 31 March 2016

"Watch VICE News reporter Jake Hanrahan broadcasting live from the scene amid violent clashes between protesters and police."

Some protesters tried to stage an occupation of the Gare de Lyon train station, in the east of the capital, but were pushed back by police officers spraying tear gas and throwing stun grenades. Violence also erupted near the Pont d'Austerlitz.


AFP reported that police made 30 arrests across the country.

Addressing reporters at a news conference Thursday, government spokesman Stéphane Le Foll urged people to remain "calm." Le Foll said that, while there was "a right to protest," there was no justification for "acts of violence."

Rail transport and air traffic across France were also disrupted, as staff went on strike to protest the reforms. Between 20 and 30 percent of flights were canceled Thursday morning, and in the capital, 25 percent of subway traffic was interrupted.

French national rail operator SNCF announced that while high-speed links would be running on a normal timetable, half of all regional trains and trains in the capital would be canceled. Around 11am, the SNCF said that nearly a quarter of its staff would be on strike, following a call from rail transport unions.

In a statement released on its website, France's Ministry of National Education said that protesters had blockaded 176 high schools across the country, but that most schools were functioning normally by 11am.

Officials closed down 11 high schools in Paris ahead of the protests, while students staged protest at a further 16 schools — severely disrupting, or altogether blocking, access to schools.

"We haven't seen this in ten years, since the CPE," said one high school student, referring to the 2006 student protests over the proposed First Employment Contract (CPE), which would have relaxed some legal strictures for people hired for the first time, to try and reduce France's unemployment rate, which stands at a relatively high 10 percent according to national statistics institute INSEE.

Students and protesters gather outside the Gare de Lyon, surrounded by the police. (Photo by Etienne Rouillon/VICE News)

Protesters hurled paint at police officers stationed between Place de la Nation square and Gare de Lyon train station. (Photo by Etienne Rouillon)

Protesters clashed with police officers on the Pont d'Austerlitz bridge. (Photo by Etienne Rouillon/VICE News)

A police officer picks up a traffic cone thrown at cops by the protesters. (Photo by Etienne Rouillon/VICE News)

A protester sets off a smoke bomb near the Gare de Lyon. (Photo by Etienne Rouillon/VICE News)

A police officer moves out of the way after inhaling tear gas used by the police to push back protesters, who were hurling stones at them. (Photo by Etienne Rouillon/VICE News)

A protester throws a projectile at the police outside the Gare de Lyon. (Photo by Etienne Rouillon/VICE News)

The police use tear gas to disperse protesters who have been hurling rocks and other projectiles at them. (Photo by Etienne Rouillon/VICE News)

Police charge at protesters near Place de la Nation square, through a cloud of tear gas. (Photo by Etienne Rouillon/VICE News)

Police officers try to push back protesters. (Photo by Etienne Rouillon/VICE News).

_All photos by Etienne Rouillon/VICE News: @rouillonetienne_

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