Protesters across France are marching to voice their anger at labor reforms being championed by the country's Socialist government. Officials hope the reforms will inject a bit more flexibility into the country's stagnant labor market but many workers fear the changes will do little more than weaken the nation's generous social protections.
▶People gather on the Place de la Republique in Paris, France, Friday, April 8, 2016. Thousands of protesters have been camping out, holding night-time demonstrations since last week at a symbolic rallying point on the Place de la Republique, to express anger at a proposed labor law and social conditions in France. The social media-driven movement, called "Nuit Debout" or "Rise up at Night," sprang from nationwide strikes and protests last week. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Protests have been held around France as unions and young people joined forces to show their opposition to proposed labour reforms. Youth organizations and unions were demonstrating on the same day as a rail strike over a wage dispute. The proposed law would remove some of the protection workers enjoy against being laid off, in a bid to encourage businesses to hire more people.
The reforms would:
Lower existing high barriers to laying off staff
Allow some employees to work more - far more - than the current working week, which is capped at 35 hours
Give firms greater powers to cut working hours and reduce pay
But many on the left see it as a betrayal of their values. In pushing the reform, Prime Minister Manuel Valls has united a formidable array of leftist forces against him, says the BBC's Hugh Schofield. That includes not just the unions but much of his own Socialist party - plus the students, who were leading Wednesday's protests. Teenagers and students were among thousands marching in Paris chanting slogans such as "El Khomri, you're beat, the youth are in the street", in reference to Labour Minister Myriam el Khomri.
Dozens of schools around the country were barricaded by students. Maryanne Gicquel, a spokesperson for the FIDL student union, described young people's experience of the job market as "a succession of internships and poorly-paid jobs". "Now we're being told that it will be easier for companies to lay off workers," she told AP news agency.
(Articles and pictures are from BBC news, ABC news, Fortune, and NewYork times.)
What I want to think and share :
In order to protest new labor law, several hundred thousand public employees and students went on strike for eleven days. They've strongly spoken up for their right. I was very impressed by the active movement of the young in France. The young were not only demonstrating against the labor law, but also the situation in general.
The thing about the French demonstration is that - more often than not - it is only the habitual protesters who turn out. That is par for the course. What counts is not what the protesters think - that we know - but what the rest of the country thinks about the protesters. If ordinary people disown the movement, then it is doomed. But ordinary people in France are always reluctant to disown movements which effectively deploy the slogans of workers' rights and social progress. And this movement is definitely one of them.
Today, many countries tackle the problem of unemployment among young people. Korea is same. However, compared to France, the youth of Korea do blame the government and labor policies, but they mostly put their energy into getting a job instead of changing the social system. Most young people distrust the government with continuous dissatisfaction and constant disappointment. The young people in Korea struggle daily to create a stable life and future. They have little time to protest and even if they did the politicians don’t listen to citizens. Not only that but politicians use some of their power and make laws to benefit themselves and certain corporations. This is a vicious cycle in our society. Of course I don’t mean that every politician is corrupt or incompetent. I want to talk about the system, social climate and political participation of citizens.
I very much wonder what makes the youth of France want to make their voices heard, and act for the benefit of their society. The history of the French Revolution? or the democratic social climate? or Education based on philosophy? And, How about the young in the U.S.A?
Further, this active movement of the young French makes me think how I can teach my students as an educator. How can I engage my students to have active citizenship and interests in political participation?