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Towards Better Times...?


Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Fight the French People Must Win

French left-wing vows more protests

PARIS (Reuters) - French left-wing parties rejected on Saturday a decision by President Jacques Chirac to modify a youth job law that has sparked a national crisis and said they would march to press for the measure to be scrapped.

Opposition groups said they would join students and unions in more mass protests set for April 4 despite Chirac's speech on Friday, which aimed to defuse a confrontation over the law that has put pressure on Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

Under the law employers can fire workers under 26 without reason during a two-year trial period. Chirac said he would sign it and then introduce a new one to create a one-year trial period and make employers justify any firing.

Chirac missed the point of the student protests, former Socialist finance minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn said.

"They don't want just a trial period shortened from two to one year. They want their work contract to be the same as other workers," he said after the left-wing meeting.......

This is what the new French Employment Laws plan to do:
French labour law row

"...... The CPE is a new work contract for under-26s with a two-year trial period. In that period, employers can terminate the contract without having to offer an explanation.

...... The government argues the measure will boost opportunities for young workers, many of whom can only find short-term contract work at best.

Some employers say they are reluctant to take on new staff because of the difficulties of firing them if they prove unsuitable or are no longer needed.

However, critics warn the new legislation could make it even harder for young people to find a permanent job, and it could be misused by larger employers.

A CSA poll in Le Parisien newspaper on Thursday suggested that 68% of French people wanted the government to withdraw the measure.

Trades unionists and student leaders say they fear it will lead to exploitation. They are calling for measures to stimulate job creation instead.......

Protests:

"Protesters, who numbered more than one million last Tuesday, say the First Job Contract (CPE) creates "Kleenex jobs" that make it easier for firms to dispose of young workers.....

Articles and debates on the controversial new employment laws can be found here: MSN-news; BBC-news ; BBC-31st March; and in many other reports from The BBC.

My Comments:

I know where I stand on this issue.

France, for many years, has had a strong labour movement. French workers have enjoyed job security while many of us in Europe have seen our job security and our livelehoods eroded by harsh, capitalist laws passed by successive governments. The French workers and their strong trade unions have offered us hope that governments can be made to listen to workers.

Yes, it could be argued that, in today's world of harsh competition, constant change and the need for workers to be 'flexible', the old French employment guarantees are old-fashioned and self-defeating.

But I do not agree.

A World that is ruled by the power of the market is not a World worth living in, unless, of course, you are one of the few who control that market.

I hope the French people (the majority of whom do not want to see the new laws come into power) have the strength to win their protests.

Because, if they lose, what hope is there for the rest of us?
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posted by summersun70 at 1:54 AM

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