France’s Dominique de Villepin has stressed there will be no turning back on a controversial labour law that has triggered widespread protests.
“This law has been voted through and will be applied,” the Conservative Prime Minister said live on national television on Sunday night. He did promise to consult unions and employers in connection with the measure – a contract that will allow bosses to dismiss those under 26 without giving a reason, anytime during the first two years of their employment. The government claims it will encourage firms to hire young people. But students watching the premier’s defence of his plan were not impressed. Many believe the law discriminates against the young. Unions say firing without explanation is wrong in principle. “He did not show that he will compromise and this is a problem,” said one of the students. “What he says is that it is a situation of precarity. ‘Let’s go for more precarity.’ And that, of course, we can’t accept,” added another. At the weekend, riot-police broke into the Sorbonne University in Paris, to end a student sit-in that was the climax of a week of nationwide protests. More demonstrations are planned in the days ahead, piling pressure on the Premier as he prepares a likely bid to succeed his mentor Jacques Chirac in next year’s French presidential elections.