Union leaders celebrated the victory on Monday but said they would remain on guard until new measures replacing the controversial First Job Contract (CPE) law come into force.
   
Tuesday's nationwide rallies will be the first test of sentiment after Jacques Chirac said on Monday the CPE would be replaced by measures to help disadvantaged young people find work.

His announcement avoided the words "withdrawal" or "repeal" so as not to embarrass the CPE's main champion, Dominique de Villepin, the prime minister, but some of its opponents hinted that the issue was not yet over.

Bernard Thibault, head of the CGT union, has said he wanted to focus on the so-called CNE job contract which, like the now defunct CPE, allows employers in small firms to hire and fire people under 26 at will during a two-year trial period without giving a reason.

Meanwhile a meeting of 12 worker and student unions on Monday said they would "remain vigilant" until the new law was enacted.

'New victories'

"We want to see how we can take advantage of this power struggle"

Bruno Lulliard, UNEF student association leader

Student leaders have pledged to hold further protests on Tuesday to try to push for further changes.

Bruno Lulliard, UNEF student association leader, said: "We want to see how we can take advantage of this power struggle that is now in our favour to garner new victories."

Chirac had ordered the pullback after weighing the results of talks with students and unions, the debilitating political fallout for the right and the danger of increasingly daring student protests on railway tracks and motorways.