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Labor law talks between French PM and unions end in deadlock

[JURIST] [JURIST Europe] Fresh talks between French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin [official website] and French trade union leaders over the new First Employment Contract (CPE) labor law [FAQ, in French; English-language official backgrounder] ended in deadlock Friday with the government continuing to insist that it will not withdraw the law, although it might amend it [JURIST report]. De Villepin appears to have the support of President Jacques Chirac [official website, in French; BBC profile]. Observers had seen the Friday talks as a first step towards possible compromise, but labor leaders said that no further talks with the government were planned. A nationwide protest strike [JURIST report] is still scheduled for March 28.

Meanwhile, violent protests against the law have continued, with French police arresting some 420 people nationwide on Thursday for vandalism and attacking officers. In Paris, 141 arrests were made as groups of masked youths set fire to cars and broke shop windows.

The CPE was introduced as a way to tackle the high level of unemployment for young workers. French employers can hire workers under the age of 26, but can also fire workers without just cause within the first two years of employment. The law was adopted by parliament two weeks ago and is now undergoing review by France's Constitutional Council [official website]. BBC News has more. Le Monde has local coverage [in French].

Angela Onikepe is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.

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