Sunday, March 19, 2006

You don't see the French whining "Can we please just move on?!?"

While the Philippines is undergoing a crisis of a country in the process of political development, a more stable and older democracy, France, is under extreme duress in balancing its labor policies with pressures of globalization.

The crisis, which certain pundits date back to the "No" vote of the EU constitution in May 2005, reached a crescendo of mass protests in 160 cities yesterday.

With an estimated turn-out ranging from 500,000 (government figures) to 1.5 million (organizers), students, trade unionists and left-wing politicians marched on the streets of France in protest of the First Contract Employment.

The CPE is seen as a solution to reduce unemployment by making the French labor market more fluid; making it easier for employers to hire and fire workers below 26 years old. While this practice is pretty much the standard operating procedure in the Philippines, France has a long tradition of "corporatism," the bargaining of State, Labor and Capital to arrive at political and economic decisions (more or less) beneficial for all. French Corporatism was central in the the re-making of modern France since the second World War, seeing the birth of national industries coincide with better labor conditions and overall increase in productivity and national wealth.

However, acceleration of global competition in the past decade has put pressure on this key bargaining mechanism, leaving smaller and smaller room for the Labor sector to maneuver.

The central tenet of democracies is the protection and enactment of the will of the People. A democracy is one where the People are active participants in politics, in shaping decisions that affect all. The State is the People, not any Administration. If you want a State that works for you, if you want a State responsible to you, if you want a State that reflects your values and intentions, you fight for it. You can be sure the French are fighting for theirs.

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