Yesterday I was dismayed to watch a beleagured Dominique de Villepin back down on the much bally-hooed CPE (contrat de premier embauche), which basically allows employers here in France to hire just out of school youth without having to, as it stands now, promise to employ them for the rest of their lives, regardless of whether they:
a) actually do their job properly
b) even turn up at the job at all
c) burn down the premises
d) have a torrid affair with their employers’ spouse
The youth are all in a froth (albeit not a violent froth, unlike what CNN would like to have you believe) about demanding iron clad job security.
The French are very enamoured with the myth of themselves all being revolutionaries at heart, and none more so than the youth. I can relate in a sense, as at eighteen I would also have undoubtedly been marching around holding a banner or sitting blocking the high school gates while beating a melancholy tune on a tam-tam drum. That is simply what we need to do when we’re eighteen – flip the bird to society-at-large.
However, from what I can garner, what the french youths seem to be asking for here is to have the right to get a steady, secure job right out of school, and then just coast there, doing as little work as possible until it is time to retire. So what they are fighting for is the right to be an overpaid, underworked, underchallenged fonctionnaires…
Huh…dare to dream.