Left: Protests turned violent in Paris
(Paris) Between one and the million French protesters took to the streets today in opposition to a new hire-and-fire youth job contract on Tuesday in rallies across France.
The students and union members rejected concessions by President Jacques Chirac aimed at pacifying protesters, and the scale of the protests suggests that the Chirac-Villepin government might have even less support than believed by pundits as recently as last week.
The nationwide general strike closed the Eiffel Tower and delayed air and rail traffic for the second time in a week. Tens of thousands of workers reportedly walked off their jobs in support of the protesters.
The "First Job Contract" (CPE) was designed to create over 80,000 jobs for young workers in a country where youth unemployment averages 22 percent across the nation and approaches 50 percent in some areas.
Students and union activists, however, view the law as regressive legislation that whittles away at job security.