Tuesday, March 07, 2006

If it's Tuesday...

the French must be striking.

PARIS, March 7, 2006 (AFP) - The French government faced a major challenge from the street Tuesday as students and trade unions staged nationwide protests against a new jobs contract intended to bring down youth unemployment.

Several hundred thousand people took part in demonstrations in all the major cities against the First Employment Contract (CPE), which is supposed to make it more attractive to employers to take on under 26 year-olds.

Some universities including the Sorbonne in Paris were closed, the authorities fearing clashes between striking and working students....

(Pause to let that sink in)

A key idea of Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, the CPE is aimed at cutting France's 23 percent jobless rate among under 26 year-olds -- one of the worst in Europe.

In high-immigration city suburbs, where as many as one in two young people are out of work, joblessness was seen as one of the factors behind last November's riots.

By enabling companies to sack young staff without explanation during the first two years of service, the contract is meant to provide assurance to employers fearful of being lumbered with longterm commitments if a worker proves unsuitable or economic conditions deteriorate.

But opponents say the CPE will be used by companies as a cheap-rate source of employment, further entrenching job insecurity among the young.

"We are not going to allow the right of companies to fire at the snap of a finger to become entrenched in French law. We are not going to allow France to operate under the same rules as the socially most backward countries," said Bernard Thibault of the CGT trade union.

Preferring, apparently to be economically backward, by ignoring the opportunity costs.

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