Saturday, March 18, 2006

That Is A Big Number

Opponents of a new French labour law are calling for at least a million people to demonstrate against the controversial legislation on Saturday. (Continue here.)
These protestors just won't go away. Since early February, protests against the de Villepin government's new First Job Contract (CPE) have given the French establishment a headache it was surely hoping to avoid, after the referendum defeat and youth riots in 2005. French students, supported by the trade unions, the Socialist Party and the Communists, have shut down their schools and universities, and organised marches drawing tens and even hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets - and there seems to be no end in sight, despite attempts to negotiate a cessation with union bosses.

The government has argued thet youth unemployment rates, the highest in France, justify these special measures. So why are a majority of people against the new reform to employment law? It is not only sympathy to the plight of young people. The issue is intrinsically linked to the wider sense of distrust people in France have for the authorities. Many are worried the CPE could lead to more general attacks on working people. And this fear is not without justification. Laurence Parisot, head of the Medef business lobby, recently told reporters, "It's never good to treat young workers in a separate category."

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