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Protests Across France Continue


Tens of thousands of people poured into the streets of Paris and other cities Saturday, in the latest nation-wide protest against an unpopular new job law. The protests were primarily peaceful, although there were reports of isolated clashes with police.

Chanting and carrying banners on a sunny afternoon, tens of thousands of Parisians registered their anger against France's new law, which allows employers to easily hire - and then fire - first-time workers, during their first two years on the job.

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin argues the law will help reduce unemployment in a country where nearly one in four French under 26 is jobless. But French youths like Laura, a university student who joined Saturday's protests, have little good to say about the legislation.

Laura agrees young French are faced with unemployment and economic insecurity. But she says the government is handing them a very insecure jobs contract. She hopes the demonstrations will help bring down France's center-right government.

Nearby, 25-year-old Francois Bar does have a job - he is a telecommunications engineer. But he fears government reforms may erode his job security, as well. "I guess, if the government is allowed to make such reforms ... they can continue, and, maybe, it will be difficult for me (to find work) in such good conditions," he said.

Saturday's protests were echoed in cities and towns across France, where labor unions, leftist politicians and ordinary French joined angry students in the latest of several massive demonstrations against the law. The protests have paralyzed dozens of French universities, and are shaping into Mr. de Villepin's biggest political crisis to date.

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