Withdraw the law or face fresh strikes and protests. That was the warning from French unions as they met government officials to discuss the controversial CPE or First Job Contract. The twelve main organisations have given the government until the start of the Easter parliamentary recess on April 15 to repeal the law. “We told them very clearly that the urgency of the situation demanded an immediate withdrawal of the CPE and that our movement will not stop – that it may assume other forms if necessary but it has reached the point of no return,” said Bernard Thibault of the CGT union.As negotiations continue, speculation is growing that the law’s chief advocate, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, might stand down. His poll ratings have plummeted while his centre-right rival Nicolas Sarkozy is leading the government delegation which is in talks with the unions. “I will, of course, assume all the consequences that may be necessary in the next few days,” Villepin said in parliament. The most recent marches on Tuesday drew more than one million people onto the streets. Fears are now growing about the impact on the French economy, the second largest in the Eurozone. One major food catering group said its sales could be hit by further strikes and protests which have led to the closure of hundreds of schools and colleges.
Talks continue to break jobs law deadlock in France