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Fresh protests in France over labour bill
 


afp

Paris

Protesters clashed with police in Paris and western France on Thursday as workers and students across the country made a new push for the withdrawal of a hotly contested labour bill.

Demonstrations as well as work stoppages, notably in the aviation and public transport sectors, are planned across France in the latest actions in a protest wave that began two months ago.

Opponents to the reform, billed as an effort to lower France's stubborn 10 percent unemployment, say it will threaten cherished workers' rights and deepen job insecurity for young people.

Clashes broke out in the western city of Nantes, with police firing tear gas at protesters throwing stones, paint and smoke bombs.

In Paris, police said scuffles pitting more than 100 masked youths against security forces left one policeman injured.

In the northern port of Le Havre, hundreds of strikers, mainly dockworkers, blocked all the main access routes into the city with barricades of burning tyres, the BFMTV rolling news channel reported.

Meanwhile civil aviation authorities said passengers at Paris's Orly could expect one in five flights to be cancelled, while delays were expected at Charles de Gaulle airport.

The unions and student organisations plan to pile on the pressure with further protests on Sunday to mark the May Day labour holiday, as well as next Tuesday, when parliament begins debating the bill.

Christophe Sirugue, the Socialist lawmaker who is present the bill to parliament after it was reviewed in committee, said Thursday that several points still needed"clarification" during the debate but that he expected the bill to pass.

Among the remaining issues are measures to make it easier to lay off workers in lean times, and whether employers should still be allowed to shed workers if conditions are depressed in their overseas operations and not just in France.


 
 

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