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French Interior Minister calls for labor law compromise

[JURIST] France's Interior Minister and anticipated 2007 French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy [official profile, in French; JURIST news archive] has called for a compromise over a new youth labor law - the so-called First Employment Contract (contrat première embauche, CPE) [FAQ, in French; official backgrounder, in English; BBC Q&A] - which among other things allows employers to fire at will employees under age 26 during the first two years of their employment. In a Saturday speech to members of his conservative Union pour un Mouvement Populaire [political party website, in French], Sarkozy expressed understanding for those protesting the law and added, "When young people see [the law] as unjust, it is necessary to remove misunderstandings by organizing the conditions for dialogue and compromise." Read the full text of Sarkozy's speech [in French]. Sarkozy has called for a six-month trial period for the legislation.

Also on Saturday, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin [official profile, in English; JURIST news archive], who has thusfar taken a hard line on the CPE, met with a few more protest leaders, but most stayed away from new talks while others staged a press conference calling for additional protests on Tuesday.

The CPE has prompted more than two weeks of sometimes violent protests [JURIST news archive] by students and young workers since its passage into law [Senate text, in French] on March 9. Supporters of the legislation say it will reduce youth unemployment while opponents claim it is too great a threat to job security. Reuters has more.

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