Monday, March 20, 2006

Stay Away, Grève Générale!

For everyone who doesn't know, France has been rocked by some big protests lately. Were they against the war in Iraq, like the protests in the UK and Italy? Were they a continuation of last fall's riots? No, they are against a new employment law, le Contrat de Première Embauche, or the First Employment Contract. Basically, it extends the probation period for a long term job contract from the average of 1.5 months to 2 years--but only for workers under 26. In return, the companies that hire them receive tax breaks, and can get rid of the CPE worker without explaining why they were fired. University students, high school students, and unions have joined together to protest the new law.

Now, completely honestly, I had no desire to "tackle the issue" of the CPE because it doesn't really affect me. I don't go to university (many of which have been blockaded for at least a week), I don't use public transport anymore (Jube had to hitchhike to work because the buses were blocked last Thursday), and lately I have been more worried about my own right to work than the right of a French university graduate to get a job for life. That admission of apathy out of the way, I am now worried. The protestors have given an ultimatum to the government: repeal the law or face the wrath that is a grève générale starting Tuesday night. A
grève générale, or a "general strike," involves shutting down everything that can possibly shut down: no trains, no school, no driving in the city center, no flights (at least, no AirFrance flights)... you get the picture.

On Wednesday I am going back to the US for five days. Thank God I didn't buy my tickets from AirFrance! Unfortunately I can't forget that about two months ago, the air traffic controllers went on strike. Passengers were trapped in airports for days. I can only hope that if they do strike, they will wait until after 8:10am on Wednesday morning...

9 comments:

Helene said...

OH NO!! I'll be praying that the strike does not happen!!!

Robyn said...

Good luck! I'll keep my fingers crossed for you :) Travel safely.

Samantha said...

I thought the call for the grève générale was for next Tuesday, the 28th? At least that's what Le Monde and our local paper are reporting....if not, I'll be crossing my fingers for you!

Gem said...

I certainly hope you're right!

Anonymous said...

Man, Meg. Wild!

Uranus said...

Typical French. They want it all: They want less work, more pay, that better performing Italian companies don't buy their "national champions" and that nobody outsources to more productive Asian countries.

Uranus

http://manyyearsinthemerde.blogspot.com

Jube said...

"less work, more pay." You got it buddy!

M Smart said...

it''s certainly not with the kind of selfish pratt liberal reaction you just demonstrated that we'll get a fairer society. don't you get the point that if you neighbour is in a shithole with legal repression hanging above his/her head, your turn will come soon? don't you get that the CPE issue is not only for young people working their arse off to survive in a "open the frontiers and let us use all workers to death" economical politic established in Lisbonne (2000) but is to be quickly extended to everyone, you, me and your parents, poor fool! Will you ever wake up and get the bloody message! stop burying your head in the sand and look at your little pitiful life full of the latest ipod gadget and co. is that worth letting all the others down and letting liberalism take over your future and your children's?just for a little peace drinking beer in a French cafe and devising on how to get a grand time with your chums...
WAKE UP!!!!
be useful. get your arse to France and join the demonstrations in the streets, don't just stay at home complaining about the inadequate behaviour of dignified and strong spirits who won't accept the US and UK way of life anymore.
GET A GRIP! OR SHUT IT.

Jube said...

m smart, you treat objects like women! You fascist!