20 March 2006

the soon to be exploited french youth

Well, it seems we may be in for some good-sized strikes here in Paris sometime this week. A few weeks ago, a new employment law was passed. People divided. Here's the issue in a nutshell:

Employment in France is by contract. It is very difficult and expensive to terminate an employee. There is also a three-month termination notice on the part of either party. Add into this that it is very difficult for young people, including university graduates to find work: The unemployment rate for <30 is quite high.

So you have young people unemployed, and businesses "stuck" with them if they hire them and they don't work out. Everybody unhappy.

Goverment's solution: New law that allows <26 y.o. people to be hired on a two-year probationary basis - or employment at will like we have in the U.S.. Law was passed about three weeks ago. This was also done in part to help with the race issues from last year, with young French of African-desent rioting due to low employment rates and lack of opportunity. You'd think, to an extent, that this would make everybody happy.

Not so! Young people unhappy, claim exploitation. Started striking immediately. Stormed and occupied the Sorbonne about two weeks ago. Big strikes and riots and general unrest for the last week.

Most powerful unions and press are in support of the students. The press gleefully proclaims that the Left is finally united against the right! Unions threatening strikes unless government backs down! So, it should be a week of French democracy played out as usual, in the streets! Whee!!