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France wants to fight joblessness by boosting temporary contracts, loosening some labor rules


PARIS — French Prime Minister Manuel Valls wants to allow employers to extend short-term job contracts, as the government gradually loosens labor restrictions in a bid to fight persistently high unemployment.

Generous protections on long-term contracts have discouraged hiring and foreign investment.

Under Valls' proposals, which need parliamentary approval, employers could extend temporary contracts twice. The total time on such a contract couldn't exceed 18 months.

It's a small but symbolic step in the Socialist government's efforts to loosen labor rules, which have angered unions.

French employers have increasingly resorted to short-term contracts, because long-term ones make it harder for them to lay employees off in times of financial stress.

President Francois Hollande and his government are widely disliked for unfulfilled promises to reduce down unemployment, which stands at over 10 percent.

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