340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Impératif présent.

I'm fucking stunned. Even though the protests had grown to near-1968 proportions, I really hadn't let myself believe that Chirac's regressive contrat première embauche would be defeated by anything so prosaic as popular dissent. Apparently, my pessimism was misplaced: as both Le Monde and the CBC report, the law "will be replaced" (i.e. scrapped and quickly forgotten) and another, more flexible alternative will be explored. Excerpts from Prime Minister de Villepin's speech demonstrate his shortsightedness, desperation and colossal arrogance:
Depuis plusieurs mois, toute mon action et celle du gouvernement ont été guidées par un impératif : apporter une réponse efficace aux milliers de jeunes de notre pays, à qui on ne propose aucun emploi.


J'ai voulu agir vite (...) J'ai voulu proposer une solution forte (...) seul un meilleur équilibre entre plus de souplesse pour les entreprises et plus de sécurité pour les salariés nous permettra de rompre avec le chômage dans notre pays.

Cela n'a pas été compris par tous, je le regrette.

Actually, I think they understood it very fucking well. The students, workers and citizens who took to the streets understood that in order to create the illusion of higher employment rates, their government was willing to sacrifice the most basic aspect of job security: the responsibility of the employer to provide a defensible reason for dismissal. This wouldn't create jobs (in the sense of steady, reliable work for which one is fairly remunerated), it would create McJobs: disposable work made for disposable people; one more odious aspect of the latest wave of globalization that French society has steadfastly rejected. Lest you forgot, this is the same country where a farmer who tore the roof off a McDonald's was lauded as a populist hero; the country which invented the "slow food" movement; the country where six weeks of vacation time per annum is an entitlement, not a reward for five years' service.

While I'm happy the law was defeated, I'm curious why no-one discussed the gendered implications of strip-mining job security. Granted, Parisian culture is notoriously chauvinistic, but I still would've expected someone to point out that a law which allows an employer this kind of latitude will necessarily make it much harder to prosecute sexual harassment at the workplace. With this law in place, how many (more) women would have had to swallow their indignation and quietly suffer at the hands of abusive bosses? "Without cause" would translate to "if the bitch says no."

Naturally, this would apply to any marginalized group you can think of. Ironically, a law designed in part to combat the fifty percent unemployment among non-white youth would only further entrench employer's perceptions that these bougnoles have no place in their society.


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