[JURIST] French labor and student groups Monday called a day of strikes for March 28 [CGT strike call, in French] after the French goverment refused to withdraw its recently passed First Employment Contract (CPE) [FAQ, in French], which allows French employers to hire workers under the age of 26 for a conditional two-year period during which they can be fired without cause. A strike call was first threatened over the weekend after some 500,000 protesters gathered [JURIST report] Saturday in more than 150 demonstrations across the country.
French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin [official website] proposed the controversial CPE in an effort to provide jobs for young workers who suffer from staggering unemployment rates, as much as 20% for young people compared to 9.6% nationwide. Students, union members and left-wing politicians nonetheless contend [JURIST report] that the law erodes job stability and threatens France's strong workers' rights tradition. The Financial Times has more. Le Monde has local coverage.