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French students vow to step up jobs protests

Written by: Staff
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PARIS, Mar 26 (Reuters) French students vowed today to step up their protests against a new youth work contract after mass marches and a general strike planned for Tuesday if the government does not withdraw the law.

''Without withdrawal of the law, there can be no question of possible negotiations,'' said Xavier Pascal, a student leader among 500 delegates from more than 80 universities and other educational institutions who met in Aix-en-Provence in southeastern France to coordinate their actions.

In a joint statement, the students said they planned to block train stations and main roads on March 30 and called on the government to resign.

''The government's deafness does not weaken our determination,'' they said after two months of protests which have led to sporadic riots and rising fears the demonstrations could be hijacked by hooligans.

France risks chaos on Tuesday as students, school children and their parents march in many cities, while the trade unions have called for a general strike which is expected to disrupt public transport with many trains and flights cancelled and only one in two Paris metro trains expected to run.

Several universities and schools are occupied by students while hundreds of riot police have sealed off the Sorbonne and Academie de France buildings in central Paris after evicting students with tear gas two weeks ago. Steel barricades are still blocking the road between the two institutions.

The Archbishop of Paris, Andre Vingt-Trois, said in a speech to students starting out on a pilgrimage that he understood young people were looking for security but this was difficult.

MORE REUTERS OM RN2109

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