Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The street rules in France. Hey, what’s new?

Indolent mediocrity is the established norm for the French workforce. That France is rife with strikes, protests, and often riots to maintain the status quo is a problem beyond the social unrest. These ‘actions’ also drain, for weeks to come, what little productive energy the offended slugs had managed to muster for the workplace and universities.
Strike Disrupts France Amid Huge Protest

PARIS - Nationwide strikes disrupted airline, train and bus service, closed the Eiffel Tower and sent hundreds of thousands of protesters into the streets across France on Tuesday as unions joined in solidarity with students angered by a new labor law.

As public pressure mounted amid the largest demonstrations yet against the controversial youth employment contract, cracks appeared within the conservative government.

In a clear break with Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy suggested that the measure be suspended to allow talks with unions…

Organizers estimated that 3 million people joined marches across the country — claiming 700,000 in Paris alone. Police estimates were far lower.

"We have to defend the rights that were won by our ancestors and which the current government is trying to take away," said Maxime Ourly, a literature student who joined tens of thousands protesting on Paris' Left Bank.

Students and labor unions say the law will erode France's cherished workplace protections. Set to take effect next month, it would let companies fire employees younger than 26 without reason in the first two years on the job…

National newspapers were not on sale at newsstands, and radio and television broadcasts were limited. About a third of public school teachers and other education workers also were on strike.

France's top five labor union federations rejected Villepin's invitation to meet Wednesday for talks, insisting that he shelve the law first.

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