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French right looks to PM for way out of crisis

by : Jon Boyle
Tuesday March 21, 2006 - 23:38
3 comments
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By Jon Boyle

PARIS - France’s ruling conservatives looked to Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin to chart a way out of a youth jobs law crisis on Tuesday as the threat of a national strike and fresh protests kept up the pressure.

The large public sector is expected to join a one-day work stoppage on March 28 and high school students took to the streets on Tuesday around France to demand Villepin withdraw the contract they say removes job security for young people.

Deputies from the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) met Villepin around midday to discuss widening protests that have hit his popularity and dented his presidential prospects.

Some UMP deputies fear the row could ensure the Right’s defeat in 2007 parliamentary and presidential elections.

"He will certainly have the opportunity, after having exchanged views with parliamentarians, to indicate what he intends to do," Bernard Accoyer, UMP group leader in the National Assembly told RTL radio ahead of the meeting.

Villepin met students and employers on Monday and newspapers reported the government might be willing to shorten the two-year trial period by 12 months and force bosses to justify a worker’s dismissal in an effort to end the stand off.

Accoyer said such amendments would not gut the CPE First Job Contract of its substance and one union leader said such changes would go in the right direction but did not go far enough.

"It’s a way out (of the crisis) only if we allow unions, sector by sector, to organise the negotiations" on reducing the notice period, Jacques Voisin, secretary general of the CFTC union told LCI television.

Villepin pushed through the law without first discussing it with unions. But with hundreds of thousands taking to the streets, and urged on by President Jacques Chirac, he has offered talks on how to implement the measure in practice.

"We are watching, we are listening to everybody, we are in the period of adaptation," Finance Minister Thierry Breton said on Europe 1 radio.

NATIONAL STRIKE

Mass street demonstrations can make or break governments in France — 1995 protests undermined the then conservative Prime Minister Alain Juppe, who lost snap elections two years later.

Chirac has so far stood by Villepin, saying the jobs law underscored the government’s determination to fight unemployment which at 9.6 percent is one of the highest in Europe.

Student groups and union leaders say the CPE would create a new generation of disposable workers and have vowed to continue their action until the government backs down.

Actress Sharon Stone, in France to promote her latest movie, lent a touch of Hollywood glamour to the debate saying the law was "unsuitable" and people have a right to know why there are hired and fired.

A poll on Monday showed that 60 percent of French voters want it scrapped, although another survey suggested many people simply wanted the government to soften parts of the law.

Unions have called for a national strike next Tuesday and the large public sector, including some transport workers, was expected to join in. It was unclear how much private sector participation there would be.

Asked if Tuesday’s national day of action would constitute a general strike, Bernard Thibault, head of the largest CGT union said he was not interested in word games.

"Let’s not play with words: a day of interprofessional action with work stoppages, strikes and protests will be general if we convince salaried workers ... to resort to these forms of action in all profession," he said on France Info radio.

An estimated 500,000 to 1.5 million people took part in last weekend’s protests which were mostly peaceful. Police used tear gas in Paris to end some clashes. One union member remained critically ill in a coma after being injured in the violence.

(Additional reporting by Laure Bretton and Anna Willard) (Reuters)

http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/new...



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> French right looks to PM for way out of crisis
Friday March 24 - 03:40 - Posted by 177550373b67b8da...

When the French want to, they stop their counry: they stop the machine!, they don’t just rage against it. That’s the difference between the US & France.

The French have cullions, the Unitedstatesians can’t get together on a damn thing—such as universal healthcare and jobs for all.

— Jean-Marie Arouet




> French right looks to PM for way out of crisis
Sunday April 9 - 05:32 - Posted by 90add670819e6146...

Very interesting article but what Sharon Stone has to do with that? Is she a member of that UMP?And if not why do you have her picture with this information? Thank you.




> French right looks to PM for way out of crisis
Tuesday May 2 - 20:15 - Posted by af37f1a6fef5913a...

Actress Sharon Stone, in France to promote her latest movie, lent a touch of Hollywood glamour to the debate saying the law was "unsuitable" and people have a right to know why there are hired and fired.






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