Mass protests and strikes continue to take place across France in opposition to the First Employment Contract (Contrat Premiere Embauche – or CPE). The CPE seeks to limit the protection guaranteed to workers aged 26 or under in the hope that this will stimulate job creation in a country where youth unemployment is around 23%. After all, it seems a reasonable assumption that businesses are much more likely to offer jobs if they can do so under a more flexible arrangement and not instead be obliged to provide a job for life to anyone and his extended family who so much as fills out the application form.
The French have reacted to this like a collective insult to all their mothers and a huge cross-section of the French workplace have gone on strike (even though the majority of them will not personally be affected by this law in the slightest – but any excuse, eh?). Meanwhile, hordes of unwashed students have taken to the streets in great numbers in an attempt to recapture the spirit of 1968. According to Bruno Julliard, head of the student union Unef, the protesters are “on the edge of victory”.
But what sort of victory will this be? You will still have the highest unemployment in the West, while French business will be ever more reluctant to create domestic jobs because of the crippling cost – which will hit the younger population the hardest – and will surely seek to offshore their workforce wherever possible. So how is any of that going to be good for France?
Reform or die, France.
Meanwhile, you have to admire this advert from budget airline Jet2 who have a stark message for the striking air traffic controllers across the channel: Get back to work you lazy frogs! Crude, but effective.