- Title: FRANCE: French unions set deadline for repeal of controversial youth jobs law.
- Date: 6th April 2006
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (French) BERNARD THIBAULT, SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE CGT, SAYING: "The government is the one engaged in a deaf conversation at the moment. The representatives of this group (the UMP senators) wanted to know our current opinion and we told them very clearly that the urgency of the situation demanded an immediate political solution, which can only be the withdrawal of the CPE. And that our movement will not stop, that it may assume other forms if that becomes necessary, but that it has reached such a point that now it cannot be stopped."
- Embargoed: 21st April 2006 13:00
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Topics: Employment,Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAEAXVR2AIZOJ2US2TNJNLN7F3V
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: French trade unions on Wednesday (April 5) set President Jacques Chirac an April 15 deadline to repeal a disputed youth jobs law, scenting victory amid mass protests and the sliding poll ratings of Chirac's government.
As fears grew about the impact of the dispute on the euro zone's second-largest economy, students blockaded roads in several cities in a second day of scattered protests after Tuesday's marches drew at least 1 million onto the streets.
Union chiefs met conservative deputies for discussions after Chirac last week effectively took Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin off the case and promised parliamentary amendments to soften the "easy hire, easy fire" First Job Contract (CPE).
"We explained to the deputies the reasons why we requested the withdrawal of the CPE (First Job Contract) and asked for a decision to be taken as soon as possible. So, we wish of course a new law which abrogates the CPE or other measures for the youth in difficult situation. We don't want the CPE in social landscape of our country any more," CFDT union leader Francois Chereque said after his meeting with parliamentary group of President Chirac's Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).
Force Ouvriere union chief Rene Valladon said France's 12 main unions wanted the three-day-old law repealed by April 15.
Students are due to hold protests next Tuesday but unions have so far not called any more strikes. Asked what unions would do if the deadline was not met, Valladon said nothing was ruled out and that unions would meet on Monday to plot strategy.
Scrapping the law could be the last nail in the coffin for Villepin's premiership. His poll ratings have plumbed new depths and his authority in government is already being challenged by rivals, notably ambitious Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.
But the setting of the deadline of April 15 -- the start of France's Easter vacations -- could reflect trade union concerns that the protests could fizzle out over the holiday period.
Villepin told parliament enigmatically that he would "draw the conclusions" of any decisions made on the law, but did not explain what he planned to do.
"I will, of course, assume all the consequences that may be necessary in the next few days. The government, Mr Hollande, do I need to remind you, serves the general interest and because of that I will assume my role and not leave to anyone else the responsibility of drawing the necessary conclusions. I will do it because I have no other goal but to serve the national interest," he said.
Some local media concluded it was a veiled resignation threat, while others said it was unclear.
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