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Chirac to Replace Unpopular Youth Jobs Law


French President Jacques Chirac plans to replace a controversial youth jobs law with a new measure aimed at helping the country's most disadvantaged young people find work.

Mr. Chirac's office made the announcement Monday after he conferred with senior members of government.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who drafted the unpopular law, is expected to announce details of the new measure later Monday.

The decision to scrap the youth jobs law comes after weeks of nationwide demonstrations and labor strikes to demand its repeal. The measure would have enabled employers to fire young workers without cause.

Officials said the law was intended to reduce France's high youth unemployment rate by making it more attractive for companies to take a chance on hiring young people.

The law would have allowed employers to fire workers under the age of 26 for any reason, at any time, during the first two years on the job.

Opponents said the law would erode job security. French workers enjoy some of the best job security in Europe, with a 35 hour work week, five weeks vacation a year, and labor-friendly laws that make it difficult to fire even incompetent employees.

But France also has one of Europe's highest rates of unemployment at about 10 percent, and 22 percent for workers under the age of 25.

Informaiton for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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