Police fire teargas at French students protesting jobs bill

10th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 10, 2006 (AFP) - French police fired teargas outside Paris's Sorbonne university and at least 1,000 students formed a human chain around the landmark Arc de Triomphe Thursday in protests over a new youth jobs contract approved by the upper house of parliament.

PARIS, March 10, 2006 (AFP) - French police fired teargas outside Paris's Sorbonne university and at least 1,000 students formed a human chain around the landmark Arc de Triomphe Thursday in protests over a new youth jobs contract approved by the upper house of parliament.

Late in the evening a large number of police officers remained deployed around the Sorbonne to contain some 200 protesters massed in front of the main entrance.

The face-off had begun in the early evening and tear gas was fired at around 9:00 pm (2000 GMT) to quell the student crowd and supporters who were pressing officers against the university gates.

Earlier there were several hundred protesters involved in the largely peaceful protest, shouting "scrap the CPE" and other slogans.

The controversial measure known as the First Employment Contract (CPE) -- a key part of the government's strategy to reduce youth unemployment -- introduces a two-year contract for those aged under 26 which can be terminated without explanation by the employer.

The diehard student protesters said they would keep up their protest at the Sorbonne all night.

The Rector-Chancellor of Paris Universities, Maurice Quenet, assured the press that the Sorbonne would open as normal on Friday, after being closed down on Thursday afternoon.

His office said that 80 students had erected barriers inside the university to stop classes from taking place.

Students also gathered near the Arc de Triomphe monument at the top of the Champs Elysees on Thursday afternoon before police took control of the broad square surrounding the arch around 5:30 pm (1630 GMT).

Police put the number of demonstrators at 1,000. Protestors claimed three times this number took part, mainly students from various faculties of the university of Paris.

"The aim of this hard-hitting action on the Champs Elysees is to make ourselves heard by the government which is not listening to us," Marianne, a 23-year-old Sorbonne student, told AFP.

"We will be determined, until the CPE is withdrawn," she said, adding that the demonstration was a peaceful protest.

French Prime Minister Dominique de "Villepin said 'it's not the street that rules' - but today it is!" one demonstrator, a student at Sorbonne university, told AFP.

Unions of employees and university and high school students also called for another day of protests across France to take place on Saturday, March 18.

In a joint statement they called for the next actions to be "even stronger than the last one", referring to mass demonstrations on Tuesday that saw 400,000 people take to the streets.

A day of action by university and high school student is also planned for March 16.

Earlier in the day France's conservative-dominated parliament approved the hotly-contested new youth jobs contract.

It was voted through the upper house Senate by 178 votes to 127 as part of a law on equal opportunities.

It had already passed through the lower house, the National Assembly, late Wednesday.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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