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.
_All photos by Etienne Rouillon/VICE News: @rouillonetienne_
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