Students stage scattered protests over French jobs law as spring break kicks off
PARIS – French students disrupted a Davis Cup tennis tournament and staged a supermarket sit-in amid impromptu protests Saturday to push the government to revoke a youth jobs law that has divided the nation.The key players in the standoff were apparently using the weekend to mull their next moves. President Jacques Chirac was to announce plans for modifications to the law on Monday, based on the results of talks between labor unions and the governing UMP party, his aides said.Unions, too, were to meet Monday and decide whether to continue the nationwide strikes and protests that have gripped the country for two months and at times spiraled into violence.The government says the law will get more young people working by making it easier to fire them; critics say it attacks France’s worker protections and punishes youths, and want it withdrawn.School vacations starting this weekend could crack the solidarity of students who have been at the forefront of the standoff. With Alpine ski slopes and Mediterranean beaches calling, some say they will have to stop demonstrating to go on holiday with their families.Police, however, remained on alert for impromptu protests, which have disrupted rail and road traffic in recent days.Three protesters dashed onto the court during the quarterfinals of a Davis Cup tennis tournament in Pau in southwest France before security officers whisked them off.Students in Toulouse by converged on a supermarket and shouted their demands that the government withdraw the law. Police dispersed them after a few hours. In Lyon, some 800 protesters marched before a national student assembly.Chirac, trying to defuse the crisis, asked the UMP party to write a new bill softening the law. Lawmakers said it could be ready by Monday.—Associated Press Sports Writer Jerome Pugmire contributed to this report.