stupid French rioters---"the boss willl make us work"

Could anybody be this stupid?
Sure, the proposed new law (allowing employers to dismiss a newly hired worker) is a challenge to existing French labor practices. But one young rioter explained her protests saying :

Horrors!!! What will they think of next? Employers might actually make the poor girl work before they pay her!

Washington Post article (registration req’d)

I think there’s a very rational explanation for that quote.

From my understanding of the proposed law, young workers can be fired without cause. This sounds like it would allow employers to skirt many laws we take for granted even in this country. I mean, would you do everything your boss tells you to do? What if he tells you to shred important looking documents or you’re fired?

I don’t understand. We have at-will employment in the U.S. but we have worker protection laws for things that involve illegal activity. Whisteblower laws protect people who report illegal activity in their company. Sexual harrassment laws protect people caught in those sitautions. I assume that France has at least that much.

The quote soes sound like a person is appalled that a company will have some control over them and, gasp, be able to fire them if they want to.

I found a more complete quote:


It sounds like there is much more to the statement then what the columnist used. What sort of job Ms. Pottier believes is a “real one” is not clear from the statement.

Just because such laws exist doesn’t mean nobody breaks them and gets away with it. The complaint from the OP’s link seems to be that it’ll be easier for employers to get away with things they shouldn’t be doing, especially constructive dismissal (such as expecting them to do “every single thing” they are told, no matter how unreasonable or how far outside of their jobs’ remit)

Are we to assume that french bosses are somehow more unreasonable and less respectful of their employees than say American or Canadian bosses?

Is a french boss more likely to want to ruin moral in his firm than a German or English boss?

I don’t know… it seems to me that the French go out of their way to find excuses to feel morally outraged so that they can stage a revolt. IMHO.

There is an active debate about this going on here.

I’ve heard that in Japan, many wage-earners are expected to work extra hours “off the clock,” with no overtime pay. Here in the states, Wal-Mart got in trouble for doing the same thing with their [del]slaves[/del] employees.

Perhaps the person quoted in the OP is worried about this sort of abuse.

“Excuse me, Marie, but after you punch out for the day, would you mind spending a couple of hours checking inventory in the back? If not, I can always find someone else…”

Are there abuses in our current system of at-will employment? Sure. Some bosses are dicks, and mistreat their employees. On the whole, however, this is not the case. And the fact is that our system is much more worker-friendly in the sense that workers can actually get jobs here. In France the high unemployment rate is an indication that their idiotic policies aren’t working. The stupid French kids who are protesting the minor changes suggested do not understand simple economics.

This is at least partly true and dates back several centuries. Different sides - or sometimes the same sode - will riot to protest something they don’t like and demand immedaite action (often very specific). Of course, this results in huge unintended consequences, so they or someone else riots and demands more action in a different direction. In many ways, the country’s political classes are paralyzed and are afraid to do anything about the situation, for reasons unknown to me. This is also much more common in Paris as the seat of government (hence more visible to the politicians) than elsewhere.

Ha! Sez U! They are obviously working exactly as planned. Let me break it down for you.

Obviously the French plan is that the more people employed, the more potential there is for abuse. Look at the US for godz sake! We have low unemployment and (from the French perspective) high levels of abuse. Practically slaves we are!

Now, look at the French system. They have less folk employed (as a percentage of the total working population) and (again, from the French perspective)…you guessed it, less abuse! Ultimately I think the French are on to something here. A few more years and they may attain their ultimate goal…NO one working and zero potential for abuse!

Besides you forgot something…its working because its French! Silly man…



One from which you can’t be dropped at a moment’s notice for any reason or no reason at all.

It’s not a minor change. It’s a major depart from french labor law principles.

The fact that the government still insist on presenting it as “minor” “a tool”, and wants to pass this without any concertation (which also runs against french uses regarding labor regulations) is part of what is infuriating people (and not only students).

Compared to the massive overhaul the French system needs, this is indeed quite minor.

People should be infuriated that the government has such stupid laws. People should be infuriated that these students are causing so much trouble over a minor change in the law that is long overdue. People should be infuriated that their economy is going down the toilet while French students block much-needed change.

Whatever. It’s not my country. If it wants to continue down the road of turning itself into a third-rate country, that’s fine by me. I’m just glad that my ancestors left the country three hundred years ago.

This, I think, is the crux of the situation. To us Americans, who are used to employment-at-will, this isn’t a big deal. But to the French, who are used to a more protected work environment, this is a huge deal. Adding insult to injury is the fact that it’s only young workers who are losing the protection. That’s age discrimination, pure and simple.

As a comparison, imagine that you were a member of a union. It’s a good union, and it negotiated a sweet deal with the employers in your industy. Then one day, the government passes a law abolishing labor unions. Wouldn’t you be pissed?

Moving thread from IMHO to The BBQ Pit.

Well, there’s an interesting article in the current issue of NewsWeek about this. Robert J Samuelson isn’t exactly a right-winger, either.

Interesting stuff.

This is true. Technically, unpaid overtime is illegal here, but your unemployment insurance will have run out long before your former employer ever faces repercussions (if any). As I was told (verbatim) by my boss upon bringing it up, “and what the fuck are you going to do about it? Don’t like it? Get the fuck out of here.”

We don’t usually agree on politics or economic policy, but I do value the perspective you bring to this board. So I hope you can take these as honest questions and not an attempt to play “gotcha”, because they aren’t:

  1. What do you think is the cause of the high unemployment rate among French youth? (Is the 20% figure I see bandied about correct?)

  2. Assuming you think this is a problem, what is the best way to solve it?

I take it this means you would prefer the French system? :stuck_out_tongue: Personally, were it me, I’d have called the fucker on it. There ARE laws and you DO have rights. S/He (I assume it was a he by the tone) was running a bluff IMO.

That said, no one denies there are abuses in our system. There are abuses in EVERY system. Looking at what the French have right now though (thanks for the article Duffer) I have to say…I’m glad to be an American.

Certainly I’d be pissed. I can understand why the French are pissed…they have been promissed all this social stuff and jobs protection for years now…and its falling apart. And they don’t want to face that because its going to be tough on them for a while. I’d be pissed as hell…its always easier to give someone more than to take something away after all.

That said though promisses from the Government shouldn’t be a national suicide pact. Its pretty obvious to anyone who is actually looking at the situation that Frances economy is sick…and it will only get sicker. So…SOMETHING has to be done, and probably something fairly radical. Ok, so a vocal percentage of French don’t like THIS proposal…what alternatives are they giving? As far as I can see their only ‘alternative’ is…status quo.