Hundreds of thousands of people have marched in cities across France in protest against the government’s employment reforms.
Young people, older workers and pensioners have expressed their indignation at a job plan that would give 18 to 25-year-olds only temporary contracts in their first two years with a company. “They’re making laws without proper consultation in parliament, without asking our opinion,” one young girl said. There are fears the reform will lead to more unemployment, meaning less money going into the state pension coffer. That is why young workers were joined by older colleagues. “The precarious situation will have an impact on our retirement, so we defend their cause,” one said. Estimates of the number of demonstrators nationwide range from around 500,000to more than a million. It remains to be seen whether that prompts the ruling Conservatives to reconsider the project during the final reading of the bill in parliament on Wednesday. Not having a majority, the opposition Socialists have failed to block it. The government has struck a defiant tone, insisting the law will increase flexibility and encourage firms to hire more young people. Unions argue bosses will simply not renew temporary contracts to save costs. The reform has dented the popularity of Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who was riding high in the opinion polls last year.