France’s constitutional court has validated the controversial youth employment law that has provoked mass protests. Earlier demonstrators blocked a major rail line into Marseille and disrupted motorists passing through toll stations as they demanded it be retracted.
The decision by the court means that French president Jacques Chirac is expected to put the CPE, or first job contract, into effect tomorrow. The CPE is part of a raft of measures put together after a wave of urban rioting last November. The law is designed to reduce high youth unemployment by giving firms more flexibility to hire and fire. The court approved it without reservation. Prime Minister Dominque de Villepin has stood by the measure despite repeated protests. Unions have rejected his offers to modify the most controversial clause allowing employers to fire staff in the first two years without reason.