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French employers to end role with jobless program

Employers dealt a blow to the French Socialist government's efforts to win consensus for its economic austerity program, saying they were withdrawing from a 24-year-old agreement under which they administered the state unemployment fund jointly with trade unions.

The employers' decision to withdraw will force the government to take over responsibility for the fund. Social Affairs Minister Pierre Beregovoy stepped in last month and imposed higher contributions on both employees and employers after they failed to agree on measures to plug an expected $4 billion deficit next year.

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