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France: Almost 3 Million Take to Streets To Oppose CPE - Quick Report

leftbank | 29.03.2006 13:50 | French CPE uprising 2006 | Education | Globalisation | Workers' Movements | World

On Tuesday 28th March campaigners against the CPE employment contract in France claimed that nearly three million people joined in strikes and hundreds of demonstrations across the country.

Transport infrastructure including airports were also hit as were banks, schools and colleges, while all newspapers went unprinted for the day.

This was just the latest massive show of force in a month long student led campaign which has seen regular protests, occupations and direct action spreading across the country.

demo map - france 28th march 06
demo map - france 28th march 06

Civil servants, including teachers, hospital staff and employees at utilities such as Gaz de France SA and Electricite de France SA, staged walkouts. National newspapers weren't published because of strikes at printing presses.

The biggest protest yesterday was in Paris, and predictably it ended in confrontation with riot police as was seen during the last student day of action on Thursday 23rd March and on the massive union backed day of action on Saturday 18th March (and indeed on many other days over the last month). Place de la Nation
saw several hours of scattered fighting with the police sending snatch-squad after snatch-squad into the crowd.

A confused situation emerged as plain clothes police, trade union security, youths from the outer estates, other demonstrators and riot police clashed throughout the afternoon. Many more police than is usual in france are now carrying videos during the protests.

Police later used gas, cs spray and water cannon against a peaceful sit down protest before clearing the square. Street fighting was reported in the surrounding streets as well, and in total hundreds of people were arrested in paris, and hundreds more in the rest of france bringing the total arrests towards 800. 50 people were reported injured.

Clashes with police were also reported in Rennes, Toulouse, Lille, Grenoble, Vannes and Brest.

The political climate is now changing after the month of unrest and the repeated mass street protests with the governemnt coming under increasing presure to scrap the CPE employment law.

Judges at France's highest court are now to rule on the opposition Socialist party's assertion that the CPE isunconstitutional. De Villepin's government is awaiting the decision before deciding on how to proceed.

Student groups have pledged not to negotiate, but to continue the occupations and mass protests.

For a roundup of reports on the day see:





For more check out the french indymedia sites:




More pics and recent updates

29.03.2006 15:10

cpe = precarite
cpe = precarite

Anti-CPE demo pics - 28th March 06:

Nantes 28th March 06

Opération "Rendre visible la précarité" à la manif nantaise du 28-03-06

General Paris

Paris Clashes


Clermont Ferrand




Recent Updates from Libcom, in the five days since the last major student day of action on Thursday 23rd March:

Occupying students evicted
March 27th 2006
Early this morning students who had re-occupied the Bugey secondary school in the town of Belley in Ain were evicted by police. The students had occupied the school for 114 hours. They issued several communiques over the course of the day.

In tiny Hennebont, 300 high school students block bridge
March 27th 2006
In just one example of the recent politicisation of French high school students, Breton regional paper Ouest France is reporting the blocking of a bridge in the Morbihan departement by protesting high school students in Brittany.

Cars torched in Saint-Denis this morning
March 27th 2006
French broadcaster tf1 is reporting that amidst an anti-CPE gathering of several hundred pupils in front of the Paul-Eluard high school in Saint Denis, around a hundred pupils have degraded several cars and torched two.

Nearly 1 in 4 high schools now disturbed by CPE protests
March 27th 2006
Around 1000 high schools are now affected by anti-CPE protests, according to the high school students body FIDL. This represents nearly one in four of the 4300 high schools across France.

Statement from an occupier of EHESS
March 26th 2006
Friday morning, the Graduate Center for Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris was cleared by riot police at 6am and left “ransacked.” 72 people were taken into custody

A week in Montpellier
March 25th 2006
A first hand account of events in Montpellier this week, sent to us from an English resident who has been involved in events there.

Occupations of lycees in the Pas de Calais region.
March 24th 2006
There have been a series of occupations of schools across the region,

French schools, further unrest.
March 24th 2006
From Indymedia Lille> Libercourt: The school is still blockaded by students.


Pictures from Paris: Place de la Republique 28/03/06

29.03.2006 15:24

first clashes, then much later on water cannon, followed by uk section 60 stylee
first clashes, then much later on water cannon, followed by uk section 60 stylee

general police action
general police action

plain clothes police snatch squads
plain clothes police snatch squads

riot squad snatch squads
riot squad snatch squads

Whilst trouble was widespread across France, it was of course a small amount compared to the massive number of people on strike and on the streets.

The daily mail gets the award for best UK article headline with its "Demo Mobs Spread Anarchy Across France" analysis.

The foreign office is now telling uk travellers to avoid the french demonstrations, with the following note on its website: "Demonstrations against the French Government's new employment law, some of which have become violent with missiles being thrown and cars and property being set alight and destroyed, continue to take place in some parts of central Paris, some of the city’s suburbs and in other cities throughout France. You are advised to avoid any areas where demonstrations are planned or taking place." Well that's most french cities then...