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France's unions prepare strike over employment law

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France's unions prepare strike over employment law


They came to talk about France’s controversial new youth employment law knowing any breakthrough was unlikely, and on Friday union leaders failed to persuade the government to scrap the so-called CPE contract for young people.

Even before the meeting, President Chirac insisted that “when a law has been passed by parliament it must be implemented.” Surveys suggest two thirds of the population are against the CPE. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin says it will create jobs by making it easier to hire and fire workers, but his popularity has been badly hit. After meeting the unions he said: “Everyone is conscious of how important the current crisis is and what’s at stake: security, classes continuing, preparing for exams, and of course youth employment.” Thursday saw the seventh major student protest in eight days. As students moved towards the centre of Paris, groups of armed youths began to join them, going on to loot shops, destroy cars and rob some of the demonstrators. Across the country, police say 630 people were arrested and 90 officers were injured in clashes. In the capital, one student is in hospital with a serious head injury. He was reportedly attacked by rioters. Student representatives are meeting ministers on Saturday, while unions have called a national strike for Tuesday.
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