Friday March 24: Summary of events

A round-up of today's main events, including unions meeting with Villepin, university occupations, rioting and mugging of demonstrators.

Summary of todays events:
-The five main trade unions to meet Villepin today at the Matignon (his official residence)

Jean-Claude Mailly of the FO (Force Ouvrier) has said that if the CPE is not withdrawn, the meeting will fall short of what is required. The heads of the other unions have not been so explicit leading to suggestions of a split. Since then, he has said that if Villepin refuses to withdraw the CPE by the evening of the day of action of March 28, FO will propose "the continuation of the interprofessional strike", report tf1.

-The 21 year old injured at yesterday demonstration in Paris is in a stable condition

-EHSS university buildings cleared by police, 72 arrested.

-The Independent reports comments made by one of Chiracs allies that he is ready to sack Villepin if he cannot resolve the confilct soon.

tf1 later reporting Chirac as saying that the law must "be applied" but that the government and the trade unions must have a "responsible dialogue" to discuss the methods.

-Strike notices deposited for Tuesday March 28 in 71 urban transport systems in the French provinces

-Today, 15 universities are blocked and 42 disturbed according to the Education Ministry

-Across France, 630 arrests yesterday, 90 police wounded

-RATP believe that the Paris metro will be running at half capacity as a result of next Tuesdays strike

-The students bodies release a statement to say that 'they do not appreciate' Villepins attempt to split the movement by meeting the trade unions without them.

-We've learnt more about the violence reported inside yesterdays demonstration in Paris. It seems to be the case that a number of gangs of youths were mugging demonstrators of mobile phones, fighting rival gangs and fighting other demonstrators. It does appear to be the case that these gangs were from the suburbs of Paris, our correspondents have estimated that there may have been up to a couple of hundred involved in such incidents. It has to be stressed that yesterday there were thousands, or tens of thousands of high school students on the demonstration who did not engage in such activities.