"PARIS Mar 10, 2006 (AP) Riot police clashed with students at Paris' famed Sorbonne University on Friday, spraying tear gas as protesters occupying the city landmark hurled ladders, chairs and other objects from windows." More...
France has so many different employment contracts that it is truly mind-boggling and trying to understand the ins and outs of each one is a full-time job in itself.
The reason for the current fracas is that this new contract is designed to entrench McJobs (McDo Boulot in French I guess) for young French workers. The government knows that they can't create any real jobs and that employers in the service sector don't like the labour laws and taxes that they are hit with when employing someone.
It is a Catch 22 situation though; the high cost of employing someone in France pays for the Social Security system, but real jobs (manufacturing etc.) aren't being created - in fact they are been outsourced to South East Asia. Flipping burgers or changing sheets in Hotel rooms with a University Education under your belt is the future of work in France, and I fully understand why the Students are revolting, because the new CPE and CNE contracts are doing away with any real labour protection. I mean a two year trial period where you can be fired at will is ridiculous.
Ok, so will the take over of the Sorbonne lead to another May '68? It would have to continue for a while, and there isn't enough of a broad-based movement as there was in '68 - and bear in mind that the Unions have shrunk in membership since then. But things might get interesting because the government had to use special legislation to force through this new Contract, basically by decree, and as we all know that doesn't go down well in a democracy.