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Last Updated: Monday, 20 March 2006, 21:38 GMT
Strike call over French job law
Students and workers demonstrate in Paris
The students say they will continue protesting
French unions and students have decided to step up their campaign against a new labour law by holding a day of strikes and protests on 28 March.

On Saturday hundreds of thousands across France took part in marches and rallies against the law, which makes it easier to dismiss young workers.

The government insists it will not withdraw the measure, which it says will help reduce youth unemployment.

President Chirac has urged protesters to begin talks with the government.

Unions had given the government a Monday evening deadline to withdraw the law, but Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said he would not back down.


Under the new scheme introduced by the law, employers will be able to end job contracts for people under the age of 26 at any time during a two-year trial period, without having to offer an explanation.

After the massive demonstrations we had last Saturday, we were expecting the government not to be that deaf
Thierry Dedieu, CFDT union

The government says the plan will encourage employers to hire young people, but students fear it will erode job stability in a country where more than 20% of 18-to-25-year-olds are unemployed.

The unions say the law will allow employers to exploit young people and have promised to "harden" their responses if the government does not make concessions.

But Thierry Dedieu, a spokesman for the CFDT union, told the BBC that the government needs to listen to the people.

"The government keeps saying the door is open for dialogue and they want to talk with us, but they just don't give us any proposal at all," he said.

President Chirac on Monday reaffirmed his support for the move.

"It offers opportunities and guarantees for young people who are in difficulties," he said.

See students meeting with Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin

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