Wednesday, April 05, 2006

France Demos : Meanwhile back at the Ranch

Are the French just plain lazy? The boss of the budget airline seems to think so and while Philp Meeson's remarks might have come from the cheap seats, if you read enough Anglo-American reports and commentary about what is happening in France, it's all pretty much in the same vein. Baroness Thatcher must be grinning from ear to ear, but I promise I won't say anything about trying to catch a train on time in the UK. Or the US for that matter.

I don't think the French are lazy at all, and work is taken is a serious issue here; of course you get the "gratte-papier" (paper-pusher) attitude, but where on earth don't you? At the demonstration yesterday in one of the speeches, the point was made that people were against the CPE / CNE because they were against a world of barbarianism and for a world that is socially just. And that is just it, this is something that doesn't just affect the French:

"What is being experienced by France is not the only and isolated case, it is the latest. We have seen similar situations in other countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Mexico in the recent past."

"The common thread is the balancing act between proponents of a labour market that should be totally flexible and allow both employers and employees to do as they like when they wish, on the one extreme, and those advocating more security, protection and laws governing every employer/employee activity in the workplace, on the other. Each of these extremes is not sustainable on its own, but the balancing act between them is also not easy. We know from our history [in South Africa] that sitting on the fence has never been a comfortable thing, but in 1996 we consciously decided that on this issue, we are going to sit on the fence. " More...

Membathisi Mdladlana might well be identifying the crux of the problem, but South Africa has seen a weakening of it's labour laws aleady. While South Africa has virtually zero social security it does have a comprehensive labour framework that provides a degree of protection to workers with the Labour Relations Act of 1995. In my experience, labour law in South Africa is fair and straightforward and gives more protection to the employee than that of the UK and US. France is the extreme in it's labour law, and everyone agrees that the "Code de Travaille" needs to be reworked. It's too complex to even be useful.

What is happening in France right now, is that people are talking about politics and economics again in a real way, about what kind of world they want to live in and what kind of world they want for their kids. They are not prepared to accept what their government is trying to dictate to them by decree and they are prepared to stand up for what they believe in and what they want. Everyone agrees France has to change and everyone has something to say about it. I think that's called democracy.

1 comment:

qrswave said...

the secret is not in reforming labor laws, though of course that is needed.

the real key is in breaking the stranglehold capital has on our economies through the federal reserve and other central banks.

that is the single thread that unravels the whole grotesque edifice.