Youthful ideals and democratic rights led to the confrontation of hundreds of students and the French gendarmes in Sorbonne University last Friday. The police used tear gas to disperse the 3-day sit-in.
The students were protesting agains the new labor law permitting employers to indiscriminately fire employees below 26 years old.
Le Contrat Première Embauche or the First Contract Employment allows companies to hire young people for a two-year trial period, and fire them without cause. This new policy is meant to spur employment by making the labor market more "fluid." France has been dominated by socialist governments and policies for the past few decades, ensuring secure employment conditions for citizens. French labor unions are also notoriously active.
In the past decade however, France has seen an increase of unemployment. In 2005, it peaked at 10%, the highest since 1999.
Now that the white young folks have joined the desperate cries of black young folks, is the state paying closer attention to a crisis slowly creeping? Is the continental socialist model finally giving in to the pressure of a more "flexible" labor market comme aux États-Unis? It is certainly showing symptoms. Will the cradle of le contrat social finally succumb to TINA (There is no alternative)? On verra.