vendredi 10 mars 2006

"Grèves étudiantes"... A little bit of French politics...


As every friday during this second semester, I was supposed to have two tutorials.
But then, at the end of my first tutorial, the door suddenly opened and a man urged us to get out of the University as they were evacuating the building. Once all out, the big main door was unusually shut behind us.
Out of the building, we only get the information that classes due to take place in the evening are cancelled.
Police cars are heading towards the Sorbonne university.

In France right now there is a political problem between some young people and the Government. The Parliament has enacted a law (Equal opportunities law) which allows companies to employ young people below 26 years old through a work contract (Contrat Première Embauche = CPE = First Employement Contract) which gives them the right for a period of two years to fire those young people without having to justify themselves, and without having to make contributions to social benefits. It is a law which is intented to encourage companies to hire young people.
Some French were opposed to the law because of what it contained. But things got even more out of hands, when the Prime Minister Villepin decided to suppress parliamentary debate by using the article 49-3 of the Constitution, which permits the Government to bypass the National assembly.

Here are a few links I found in English related to the controversial law :
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4689498.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4781880.stm
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2006/feb2006/fran-f10.shtml

6 commentaires:

L a dit…

Sorry Mimi i don't fully understand your story. Do you mean that the people who cancelled your classes and got everyone to leave university were actually the students protesting this law?

We have a similar situation in the UK, with most jobs you hired on a trial basis (not sure of the exact term). This means that while on your trial basis you can be fired with no reason needed for the company to fire you. Normally the trial basis should last no more than 6 months, after 6 months the employer can choose to fire you or give you a permanent contract. But employers can extend a trial basis by changing some of the minor terms of your contract up to 18 months. So you can be working for over a year then suddenly get fired to save the company money. Big companies like Tesco do this, so they can hire whoever they want and get rid of them if they don't need or want them.

But in the UK this is not limited to just young people, all jobs now are like this unless you are given a permanent contract straight away. I don't know if there were ever protests about this in the UK, it has always been this way since i started working (six years ago) but i think it has been like this for a long time. Speaking as an employee its a horrible system so i say good luck to those people protesting even if it sounds like your PM will push it through regardless.

mimi a dit…

Hey L !! :)
Yes, I realised that I wasn't really clear about it...
Actually on Friday, 200 students "invaded" the University of the Sorbonne, and as my university is a few streets further, the uni feared that they might do the same in our building, so they decided to ask the students to leave in order to close the doors of the university.
When we were outside the building, I saw a few guys trying to act discrete, but it was funny because it was so obvious that they were part of the group of students having "invaded" and occupying the Sorbonne, and they were contacting their friends to tell them what the situation was in the Law school..

-the students occupying the Sorbonne building decided to spend the night in the Sorbonne, but at 4AM, the police breaked in.

L a dit…

Wow, thats crazy though i think most universities in England would be ecstatic if 200 students were trying to get in. Lecturers would start teaching and then all those students would be racing to get out.

Checked on the situation in UK and most jobs now work on the temporary contract basis. Most of the people i know only have temporary contracts, every year their contracts come under review and there is the chance they may lose their job. From a business point of view it allows them to treat their staff like crap, but it also means most staff are always looking for new jobs.

mimi a dit…

In France too, there are "permanent" and temporary work contracts. Legally, employers are normally not allowed to employ several times a person through a "temporary" contract, and should then sign a permanent one, but in reality, employers keep abusing of those kind of contracts (for young, old employees..).
This new contract is just a specific contract for young people, some politicians say that they just should have modified the temporary contract, instead of creating a new one.

The sad thing here, is that France has a strong social history -with a strong protection of employees, and people have a hard time accepting a law which clearly creates "precariousness" (?), though sadly, in reality this situation exists already...

A friend told me that he thinks that the reason why French people are more often in strike compared to other countries is that French people have not yet accepted and given up the fight for more rights for employees, whereas workers in many other countries are more 'resigned'.

Anyway, I think that this mentality of a 'social welfare state' is disappearing, French people are giving up, because politicians keep explaining that the reason of the bad economical situation here is due to the Labour Law which is too protective for employees.
And politicians will probably continue passing laws clearly lowering the standard rights, with the idea that it is better to have an 'insecure' job than no job at all.
But as one teacher said, when most of the people of a country will work in an insecure environment, it might have great consequences on the culture, the mentality and the behaviour of people.
Because working and knowing that you can get fired at any time will change the confidence of people, their family life, their habits, their interests in politics, their conception of the State...

Dave a dit…

I must say it's nice to hear about people actually caring enough to mount a full scale peacefull invasion. I'm assuming peaceful since it's French, not American.

Clearly a rather tangled mess though, probably won't find an answer to suit everyone, which usually means it'll be the little guys who lose out. Shame.

Jean a dit…

Cool, I didn't read comments before. It is a whole new world here. :)