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French Unions Set Easter Deadline for Repeal of Youth Employment Law

French trade union leaders have set an April 17 (Easter Monday) deadline for the repeal of the controversial youth employment law that has sparked several weeks of nationwide protests.

The appeal by the heads of the country's 12 main unions comes hours before they are to talk with leaders of President Jacques Chirac's ruling party about ways to resolve the crisis. The union leaders say they will continue to call for protests until the law is repealed.

Meanwhile, demonstrators Wednesday blocked roads and disrupted delivery trucks during scattered protests across France.

The latest protests follow nationwide demonstrations by more than a million people and clashes in Paris as demonstrators stoned police, who responded with tear gas and rubber pellets. Authorities report more than 400 arrests.

The new law allows companies to hire young workers for a two-year probationary period. The government says the law is necessary to cut France's high unemployment rate, but opponents say it will not protect young workers.

President Chirac has asked the unions to have constructive discussions about the law, and has urged students to go back to school to prepare for exams.

Mr. Chirac has signed the jobs bill, but he said it will not take effect until changes are approved.

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