Travellers were expecting chaos in France today amid a fresh wave of strikes and protests against a new employment law. Despite predictions of less disruption to public transport than during last week’s industrial action, air passengers were set to suffer delays and cancellations. In schools and banks, workers are also set to down tools.
Six out of ten French citizens support today’s action according to a new survey. It comes as Dominique de Villepin’s conservative government tries to coax the unions to talks. Central to any negotiations will be Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. His crisis-resolution efforts could boost his chances in the race to be France’s next president.
Conciliatory signs have come from student union leader Bruno Julliard who favours discussion on two conditions – firstly that the new measure is not put into practice in the coming days and secondly that talks are held about scrapping the law, not about modifying it.
Some students have voted to continue blockading colleges despite President Jacques Chirac’s pledge to soften key parts of the legislation. But elsewhere others were battling to gain access to universities and end their occupation. The First Job Contract is aimed at cutting youth unemployment. Critics claim it will merely increase job insecurity.