Friday, March 17, 2006

May 68 Redux

The streets of Paris have ignited in days of rage as students strike against the new employment laws. Reminding us once again of the Paris Maydays of 68. Complete with cops attacking protesters. It's a Flashback; Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

About 250,000 students took to the streets of major cities. Some wore black garbage bags to symbolise their charge that the Government treats young people as disposable workers.The student rallies have worried the Government because of their rapid spread, the threat of participation by trade unions and the historical power of students in France. A student protest that began at the Sorbonne in 1968 led to the resignation of the President, Charles de Gaulle.

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France's newly passed labour law

Due to come into effect next month, it will make it easier to hire and fire young people at a time when the youth unemployment rate averages 23 per cent.

The protesters' anger focuses on provisions that will allow companies to fire employees under 26 at any time during their first two years of work, without cause.

"They're offering us nothing but slavery," said Maud Pottier, 17, a student at Jules Verne High School in Sartrouville, north of Paris.

"You'll get a job knowing that you've got to do every single thing they ask you to do because otherwise you may get sacked. I'd rather spend more time looking for a job and get a real one."

Business leaders complain that existing French labour laws make it virtually impossible to dismiss incompetent employees without giving them prohibitively costly severance package

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