[JURIST] French President Jacques Chirac [official profile] said Friday that he will sign the First Employment Contract (CPE) [text], a controversial labor law which, in its current form, includes a provision allowing employers to hire workers under 26 for a conditional two-year period at the end of which they can be dismissed without cause. In a televised address [transcript, in French; recorded video via TF1; recorded audio], Chirac said he supported the law because it had been approved by Parliament and because he believed it could be "an effective tool for employment", but he promised to urge the goverment of Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin [official profile] to make immediate amendments, including shortening the period during which younger workers can be fired and requiring employers to provide a basis for dismissal.
The CPE [official backgrounder, in English; JURIST news archive] has sparked a wave of protests [JURIST report] across France in recent weeks, primarily by students and labor unionists who fear it will increase unemployment and destroy job security among younger workers. Earlier this week, many workers went on strike [JURIST report] and over a million people demonstrated across the country. France's Constitutional Council [official website] on Thursday ruled [decision, in French; case materials, in French] that the law does not violate the country's constitution [JURIST report]. BBC News has more.