People protest government's youths jobs plan across France

Thousands of students, political activists and union workers demonstrated across France on Tuesday to demand that the government scrap a proposed youth work contract, saying it would endanger job security. In one of the first of scores of marches planned throughout the country, police and organizers said about 15,000 people protested in the southwestern city of Toulouse to demand withdrawal of the so-called "first job contract."

The proposed contract would give workers under age 26 a two-year trial period followed by an indefinite contract. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who has made the fight against unemployment his government's top priority, is promoting the new type of job contract to encourage companies to hire young people and tackle a 23 percent jobless rate among 18-to 25-year-olds the highest in Europe.

Unions such as the center-left CFDT and the Communist-backed CGT joined students and employees from private-sector companies including Toulouse-based plane maker Airbus and Air France at the Toulouse march. Marchers, many chanting "resistance!", took aim especially at the conservative Villepin.

The proposal was on the agenda Tuesday at a parliamentary session in Paris, where a similar march was also under way. It was unclear how many people would turn out because many students in Paris are on seasonal school holidays, reports the AP.

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