Half a million youths say no to the CPE

On Thursday, two days before the latest national mobilisation, hundreds of thousands of students and secondary-school pupils - the latter very numerous - demonstrated across France against the CPE.

In several cities, there were clashes with the police. The Prime Minister Domenique de Villepin claimed once again to be "open to dialogue within the framework fixed by the law to improve" the CPE. "I am very hopeful that this day will go well", he declared before announcing that on Friday evening he would receive the Conference of University Presidents (CPU) in Matignon.

“Not enough”, responded the students and secondary-school pupils who require no less that the pure and simple withdrawal of the CPE, a contract reserved for those under 26 years which keeps them on a two-year probation period "Withdrawal of the CPE! ", "Chirac, Villepin and Sarkozy: your probation period, it is finished!" or “No! No! No to casualisation", demonstrators in the various processions chanted.

According to the national Union of the students of France (UNEF), 66 universities out of 84 were in strike. The Directorate-General of the national police force (DGPN) let know that 247,500 people had taken part in 196 processions across France at 6pm. Eighteen police officers were wounded, including eight CRS in the capital. On their side, the UNEF and the Independent Democratic Federation of high-school girls (FIDL) announced more than 500,000 participants.

"You can’t live with a knife at your throat", said Sophie Cojan, a 21 year-old film student at the Parisian demonstration. Like many other demonstrators, she wore a black plastic bag over her clothes to show that young people are not "disposable". "I do not say that all the owners are bad, but goodwill is not enough".

In the morning, between 7,000 people, according to the police force, and 15,000, according to organizers, had demonstrated in the streets of Marseille against the CPE. The noisy and coloured procession contained a majority of high-school pupils who answered the one day call for "dead schools" it was the first time such large numbers on schoolchildren had joined the demonstrations in Marseille.

In Toulouse, they were between 9,000, according to the police force, and more than 17,000, according to organisers, denouncing the CPE. The procession was carried out by high-school pupils and students, stressing in particular "Enough, enough, enough of the CPE! Yes, yes, yes to the CDI ". In the morning, clashes had occurred in front of the university of social sciences between supporters and opponents of the blockade of the university. Lessons were suspended by the faculty until Monday.

The mood was also very tense in Rennes, where between 4,500 demonstrators, according to the police force, and 15,000, according to UNEF, marched at midday. Before the gathering, a hundred students had occupied the main hall of the town hall of Rennes, before being thrown out by the CRS. There were confrontations with the police force after the demonstration.

There were also serious incidents in Paris, after the gathering. Several hundreds of young people and the CRS confronted each other on Raspail boulevard. Bottles and many paving stones were thrown onto CRS lines, which answered with teargas grenades. A newspaper kiosk was burnt and a phone box destroyed by rioters. There was further violence close to the Sorbonne.

Demonstrations were organized in other towns in France: in Bordeaux, where between 8,000 people, according to the police force, and 20,000, according to organizers, were in the streets; 2,500 demonstrators, according to the police force, marched in Brest, 2,000 in Quimper, 8,000 in Nantes, 4,200 in Anger, 5,000 in Lille, 5,000 in Grenoble, 1,000 in Périgueux and 4,100, according to organizers, in Clermont-Ferrand. The march in Lyon gathered between 5,000 opponents of the CPE, according to the police force, and 8,000, according to organizers.

The anti-CPE demonstrators also occupied of the railways in ten stations, mainly in Brittany, the Pays de la Loire and the Grand Ouest regions, causing delays of up to 40 minutes, according to SNCF.

This day is a foretaste of the demonstrations planned for Saturday France by youth organizations and the trade unions. According to a survey by CSA for I-Tele and "Parisien/Aujourd'hui de France" on Friday the movement retains is supported by 63% of the French. 68% of them also favour the withdrawal of the CPE.

Translated for libcom.org from bellaciao.org