Jan. 18 - At an emergency summit to announce proposals to change legislation, the French President hoped to make headway in addressing the country's unemployment. Union leaders said they wouldn't be rushed into the changes. Joanne Nicholson reports.
Nicolas Sarkozy arriving at what's being called a "crisis social summit" to urge union bosses to work with him on labour law reforms. With only three months until elections in France, President Sarkozy hopes to fix his country's unemployment problems. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT NICOLAS SARKOZY, SAYING: "We have decided to reinforce investment in the employment agencies. Despite the efforts made by the agencies, the increase in the numbers of unemployed people has led us to hire one thousand more employees. That represents half a million euros investment by the state, which will be financed by redeployment, so that we do not increase our country's deficit." But, despite having a set of proposals of their own, the unions are refusing to be rushed. CGT union leader, Bernard Thibault (SOUNDBITE) (French) CGT UNION LEADER BERNARD THIBAULT, SAYING: "I have the confirmation that the French President is making the wrong analysis of the situation to justify -- or try and justify -- unemployment figures, that it would be the employees fault who would cost too much. We refuse this argument and we are ready, as we did this morning, to compare on an international and european levels, it is a lie to tell the French that they cost too much and they are the ones responsable for the unemployment and precariousness levels." Thousands of left-wing demonstrators took to the streets in Paris to express their opposition to the President's proposals. Mr Sarkozy is already under pressure after France lost its Triple A credit rating last week. He's yet to announce his candidacy for president and opinion polls suggest he's in danger of losing the election. Joanne Nicholson, Reuters