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French Labor Unions Ask Chirac to Send Jobs Law Back to Parliament

French labor unions, bolstered by nationwide strikes and protests, have asked President Jacques Chirac to intervene in the dispute over a new jobs law.

More than one million people marched through French cities Tuesday to protest the bill, and a nationwide general strike brought transportation and other services to a standstill.

Police arrested more than 700 protesters, and there were reports of some injuries.

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin pushed the legislation through the lower house of parliament last month. The bill would make it easier for employers to fire young workers during their first two years in a job.

Mr. Chirac's office says he will speak publicly on the controversy in the next few days. The labor unions are expected to meet Wednesday to discuss their next move.

Mr. Chirac has been supportive of Mr. de Villepin so far. But a potential split in the government surfaced Tuesday when Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy proposed suspending the jobs law while holding more talks with the unions.

France's Constitutional Council is to rule Thursday on whether the jobs law is valid.

Labor unions sent a letter to Mr. Chirac late Tuesday asking him to strip the law of controversial provisions on youth job contracts and send the legislation back to parliament for a new debate.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.