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France labour reform: Clashes during 'last round' of street protests

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image copyrightReuters
image captionProtesters gathered in Paris and other French cities to demonstrate against a controversial French labour reform that aims to make it easier to hire and fire workers and negotiate directly with employees on working time.
image copyrightAFP
image captionSome of the protesters clashed with riot police in Paris as well as Nantes, Toulouse, Rennes, Grenoble and Montpellier. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the violence was "unacceptable".
image copyrightEPA
image captionHooded youths hurled firebombs as well as bottles and beer cans as scuffles broke out. Fifteen officers were hurt, including two who suffered burns, the Interior Ministry said.
image copyrightEPA
image captionFour protesters were hurt during the clashes. The law aimed at loosening France's notoriously rigid employment laws was forced through in July after months of often violent protests.
image copyrightReuters
image caption"Everybody hates the labour law reform" - the proposals were so unpopular even with President Francois Hollande's own Socialist Party that the government was forced to approve the law without a vote.
image copyrightEPA
image captionThe government hopes the law will help lower a jobless rate stuck near 10% but unions - including these members of the CGT marching in Marseille - say it will undermine high standards of labour protections, particularly in small firms.
image copyrightEPA
image captionAuthorities said some 78,000 people rallied overall nationwide, including 13,000 in Paris. Organisers put numbers across France at more than twice that figure.
image copyrightAFP
image captionAt their peak, street protests brought close to 400,000 people into the streets last March but turnout has waned over time and was in the low thousands in most cities on Thursday, police said.
image copyrightEPA
image captionUnions now say the focus will shift to legal challenges against the reform as turnout on marches dwindles. However, with France's presidential election now seven months away, the unions have insisted they will not relax the pressure on Mr Hollande.

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