[JURIST] French union and student leaders Saturday rejected as "unacceptable" a compromise offered by President Jacques Chirac [official profile] on the First Employment Contract (CPE) [text, in French; official backgrounder, in English; JURIST news archive], insisting they would continue public protests. Chirac announced [JURIST report] in a televised address [TF1 recorded video] Friday that he intends to sign the legislation. As drafted, it allows employers to fire workers under the age of 26 without cause in the first two years of their employment. Chiracs proposed compromise cuts the time period to one year, and requires employers to give a reason for dismissal. Chirac said he would not allow any CPE contracts to be concluded under the new law until the changes were made. 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].
The CPE has sparked a wave of protests [JURIST report] by students and union workers across France in the past few weeks; on Tuesday, well over a million people demonstrated against it. Protesters fear that the CPE will increase unemployment and destroy job security among young workers, although the law is actually intended to curb unemployment, which in France is running at a rate of 10 percent, 22 percent for workers under 25. While France has some of the best job security in Europe, it has the highest unemployment rate as well. VOA has more.