Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wow. I'm absolutely knackered. Pooped. Bushed. Beat. Wiped. (If you can think of another expression for being extremely tired, let me know -- I'm collecting them for my classes). Anyway, this daylight savings thing has been great in that I can now walk home after my late classes without a flashlight (not that I ever did that), but I feel like I've been run over by a bread truck or something.

Some of you have asked about all the hoo-hah going on re: the new first job contract and I just want to reassure everyone that things are just fine where I am. Not a lot of excitement happens where I am. I like it that way, though. Apparently the law allows employers to fire young workers (-26 years old) more easily than before in order to provide them (employers) with more incentive to create new jobs. The hiring/firing process is more complicated and expensive for companies here because of all the protections, so this is supposed to be a way of combatting the high unemployment rate for the young. Of course, all the students are less than happy about the job insecurity this would bring them. It's a murky business, I think, because when we were looking for apartments we had people refuse to even show us locations because S. was still in his 3-month trial period. I don't know how 20-somethings will be able to negotiate those kinds of things under the new contract. The government (constitutional council) upheld the law and now it's up to President Chirac to negotiate. Or not.

I've been asking my adult students about it, and they seem to be divided into pragmatic/idealist camps. While some of them support the students, quite a few of them are unsympathetic to the protesters. Of course, all of these students are over the 26-year-old threshold so maybe that changes the slant. Many people seem to think that most of the protesters don't even know how this would really affect them -- a lot of bitching and moaning without bothering to research the issue -- and the violence really disgusts all of the people I talked with. They all separated the strikers from the hoodlums, though, and said it was a shame that so many people are being opportunistic in this way. More that one class seemed to think that as long as the employee did a good job, they weren't really in danger of being fired without notice since it would be expensive and time-consuming to train them. I think they all are just hoping it really will have a positive effect on unemployment. The student-sympathetic people all mentioned their fear of deteriorating labor practices and even said that this would be a huge step backward for the French. They talked about history and tradition, and their concern that this would destroy all the progress that their parents and grandparents worked hard to make.

Oh, yeah -- there was one fellow who didn't fall into either camp...he was the lone cynic. He said it didn't make a damn difference either's all a government ploy to get votes and whether it was voted in or out would change nothing. That guy is a hoot.

My favorite question by far was asking them, "Have you ever been on strike or in a protest?" That got a lot of smiles and funny answers. I learned so much about them and French people in general right there. I've got to ask my in-laws the next time I talk to them.


bcinfrance said...

Virtually all of the strikers are civil servants or students. Maybe that's why your question got a smile: you could probably predict by their professions whether they would strike or not.

Pardon My French said...

That's true! There were some surprises, though. They all seemed to enjoy talking about it. It was different, though, talking about the CPE with my husband's friends last night.