Students Barricading with Tables and Chairs at the Sorbonne


Thank you once again, Craig Smith at the New York Times for your article Sunday, March 12th for keeping us up to date. It is hard to believe that French riot police are once again at the footsteps of the Sorbonne, University of Paris – which is the epicenter of student life in Paris’s Left Bank, Latin Quarter. But this happened at 4 a.m. Of the 200 students involved, only 11 were arrested.
The reason for this nationwide protest involves employment contracts for employees under 26 years old. The contested law would allow employers a two year probation period to decide whether they would keep full time employees on staff.

For Americans, my self included, the whole concept of job stability is pretty foreign – unless you’ve ever worked for a large corporation. Discontent concerning this proposed law has been brewing for quite a while and here are some of the conversations I’ve had with French friends regarding the law :
How can an employee plan for his/her future – i.e. go out and buy a home, raise a family if he/she’s on a two year probation?
My response is – you live your life being always ready to adapt to change – which doesnt’ sit well with the French lifestyle that focuses on stability.
I’ve also spoken to some of the small business owners who are so hemmed in by hiring and firing laws. Add to that the 35 hour work week, and it makes running a small business very challenging.
It is virtually impossible to fire someone in France – so rather than fire you, an employer will make life as miserable as possible.
The result is a great deal of psychological misery. Like an unhappy marriage, people are forced to stay in unhappy working situations when they might be much better off finding a working environment where they can flourish.
Employers should be able to fire employees if they feel they’re not doing the job properly.
Being fired can be a blessing. I’ve known executives who’ve been fired and went on to become multi-millionaires.
Instituting a two year probation period for full time work might encourage small businesses to hire people that they would have normally only hired as part-timers. So where are the negatives?
Let me know your thoughts!

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