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Protesters in Paris march against French labor reforms amid tight security

The majority of French citizens oppose the labor reform legislation, the leader of the CGT labor union has said. Authorities bolstered security along the route following serious violence at previous demonstrations.

Thousands of protesters participated in a short march in Paris on Thursday, demanding French President Francois Hollande withdraw labor reform legislation.

"A majority of French people say (they oppose the reform). The majority of unions say it, and there's no majority in favor of it in the National Assembly," said CGT labor union leader Philippe Martinez, referring to a Sunday survey indicating two in three French citizens oppose the legislation.

Over 2,000 police enforced strict security measures at Thursday's demonstration after last week's turned violent, leaving two officers hospitalized and 26 others injured. France is under a state of emergency following last November's terror attacks.

Riot police arrested 85 people ahead of Thursday's march, mainly for carrying objects that could be used as projectiles in the event of a violent turn at the rally.

The French government had attempted to ban the protest from going forward under the current state of emergency regime. The move would have marked the first time authorities banned a demonstration in over 50 years.

However, Paris authorized the rally following bitter negotiations between participating unions and the government.

Some of the participants criticized the rally, with one holding a sign saying: This is not a protest, it is a zoo.

Some of the participants criticized the rally, with one holding a sign saying: "It is not a protest, it is a zoo."

'To the finish line'

Hollande on Thursday told reporters that his government will continue to push through labor reform legislation, which is expected to make hiring and firing employees easier.

"We will take this bill to the finish line," the president said.

The Socialist government has struggled with France's unemployment rate, which has continued to hover around 10 percent since Hollande took office in 2012.

But the CGT and its supporters say the legislation undermines workers' rights.

The labor reform package reached the Senate after Prime Minister Manuel Valls pushed it through the National Assembly, France's lower house, using special measures allowed under Article 49-3 of the constitution.

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ls/jm (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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