Students disrupt road, rail traffic across France

30th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, France, March 30, 2006 (AFP) - More than 1,000 students blockaded a mainline Paris railway station Thursday and hundreds more disrupted road and rail traffic across France in protests against a government youth jobs law.

PARIS, France, March 30, 2006 (AFP) - More than 1,000 students blockaded a mainline Paris railway station Thursday and hundreds more disrupted road and rail traffic across France in protests against a government youth jobs law.

The state railway company SNCF was forced to halt traffic in and out of the Gare de Lyon after protesters managed to overwhelm police checks at the entry to the station and began building a wooden barrier on the platforms.

Riot police moved in, first surrounding the students before escorting them toward the exit. Around 10 people were detained, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

An SNCF spokesman said similar disruption had occurred in France's second city, Lyon, as well as nearby Saint-Etienne and Lorient in the east.

In Metz, eastern France, some 400 students occupied platforms for about two hours, whistling and shouting slogans and delaying 50 trains.

Earlier Thursday, about 40 trains were affected when 200 students occupied the tracks at Saint Charles station in Marseille, on the Mediterranean coast, before being moved on by riot police using tear gas.

Students also disrupted four services at Roanne in the Loire valley and at Montpellier in the south where 11 trains were delayed by up to an hour.

Separately, protests hit road traffic in a number of cities, including the capital Paris, Lille and Dunkirk in the north, and Nantes, Angers and Rennes in the northwest.

Student leaders had called earlier this week for a day of action Thursday targeting road and rail links as part of a nationwide protest movement against the law, known as the First Employment Contract (CPE).

The measure encourages companies to hire young workers by making it easier to fire them, which students and unions say only increases job insecurity.

On Tuesday more than a million people — up to three million, according to some unions — demonstrated across France demanding the law be withdrawn.

On the Paris ringroad Thursday, around 50 students caused major tailbacks before being detained by police, while up to 400 staged a sit-in on a regional highway near the capital, forcing its closure for nearly two hours.

In Nantes, more than 200 blocked bridges over the Loire, sparking traffic jams of several dozen kilometres, police and traffic authorities said, although they later dispersed.

Students at Angers blocked a key arterial road for two hours and at Rennes they disrupted ring-road traffic, causing seven-kilometre tailbacks, and one railway line.

Key access roads were also briefly blocked in and around Lille and Dunkirk, while students at Montpellier took over motorway toll booths and gave drivers free entry.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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