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New plan for youth jobs okayed in France

France'S lower house of parliament yesterday approved a compromise youth jobs plan to replace a measure that triggered nationwide protests and plunged the country into crisis.

Unions, whose protest movement forced President Jacques Chirac to scrap the law on Monday, have said they would remain vigilant until the new compromise plan is approved. The National Assembly voted 151-93 in favor of the plan, which now goes to the Senate.

Chirac, meanwhile, sought yesterday to draw a line under his climb-down over the hated youth labor contract, telling students it was time to end remaining blockades of universities and get back to class.

Ecstatic after Chirac's announcement on Monday that he would scrap an "easy hire, easy fire" flexible labor contract for the under-26s, some students urged new protests to target other labor laws they see as unfair.

Students blockaded four universities yesterday while protests disrupted classes at a further 17, the education ministry said. Forty-one other universities were functioning normally while the rest were closed for holidays.

Chirac appeared eager to put the debacle behind him. "All the youth should be able to return to class and prepare for exams," he said yesterday, calling for a return to "order" after weeks of protests shuttered or disrupted universities and high schools nationwide.

The compromise plan, worked out with unions and UMP, includes training and internships for disadvantaged youths instead of the job contract that would allow firms to fire workers under 26 in the first two years without giving a reason.

Lawmakers from Chirac's ruling UMP party rushed to get the new plan passed before spring recess set to begin tomorrow. The four new measures easily passed the lower house, dominated by the UMP.


 Source : Agencies  Editor: WuLin
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