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French “Students” Really Don’t Want To Work

From France’s AFP:

French PM under mounting pressure over youth jobs plan

Sun Mar 12, 7:56 AM ET

PARIS (AFP) – French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was coming under intense pressure over a contested youth jobs programme, as more student protests were planned for the week ahead and some commentators warned that his political future could even be at stake.

In his toughest test since taking office last June, the prime minister was to appear on the main television news programme Sunday evening in a bid to defuse the mounting sense of crisis over his government’s First Employment Contract (CPE).

Government insiders said Villepin would not bow to the growing pressure to withdraw the CPE, which was approved by parliament last week, but might offer side-measures to make the contract more acceptable to opponents.

A personal initiative of the prime minister and a key part of his strategy to bring down France’s high levels of youth unemployment, the CPE is a two-year contract for under 26-year-olds which can be terminated without explanation by the employer.

By giving companies extra flexibility the contract is meant to encourage them to hire more young people. But left-wing opponents of the government say it will be used by unscrupulous employers to replace full-blown contracts, and will entrench job insecurity.

A growing swell of protest brought hundreds of thousands of students and workers onto the streets on Tuesday, followed by occupations, strikes and sit-ins at more than half of France’s 85 universities.

In a highly symbolic development, riot police early Saturday used force to evacuate the historic Sorbonne university in the Latin Quarter of the capital — centre of the May 1968 disturbances — which had been taken over by some 300 students.

Visiting the scene Education Minister Giles de Robien angrily accused protesters of vandalising university property. Tables, chairs and doors were used as barricades, and papers and broken books wers strewn over corridors and lecture-rooms.

"This is what you get when you call for agitation," he said.

But Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the Green party Euro-deputy who was a leader of the May 1968 uprising, said reaction to the occupation was excessive.

"The government’s going off the rails. Decades may have passed but governments always make the same mistakes. When they resort to force they lose," he told AFP.

Villepin, who is a close ally of President Jacques Chirac and has been tipped as a candidate to replace him at next year’s elections, has seen his poll ratings plunge in recent weeks after a long political honeymoon.

With trade unions and students planning two more days of demonstrations on Thursday and Saturday, and with the opposition Socialists finding in the CPE a rare chance to unite against the government, Villepin was being further undermined by mutterings within his own camp, commentators said.

Sunday’s newspapers carried anonymous remarks from senior members of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), criticising the 52 year-old prime minister — who has never once stood in an election — for his aloof style.

"He acts alone, with absolutely no consultation, even though he does not have the legitimacy of an election behind him," a deputy told Le Journal du Dimanche.

"Hatred of Villepin is going to become the most popular sport on the right," an unnamed minister told Le Parisien, whose article on the crisis was headlined "Villepin’s future at stake".

The CPE row has come on top of a series of other difficulties for Villepin, including the bird flu scare, the embarrassing recall of the decommissioned aircraft-carrier the Clemenceau from India on environmental grounds, and a parliamentary debacle over attempts to regulate file-sharing by Internet.

Nearly one in four of under 26 year-olds in France is without a job, a figure that rises to more than one in two in some of the high-immigration city suburbs that were hit by last November’s riots.

You see the students really don’t want to displace older workers. They know in their hearts that is wrong.

I do love seeing this described as Villepin’s toughest challenge yet.

I guess the Moslem terrorists youths setting fire to a hundreds of cars and buildings a night for those weeks was just a series harmless pranks.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, March 12th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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