France Scraps Youth-Labor Law

Monday, April 10, 2006 at 08:56 AM

Bloomberg is reporting that Jacques Chirac has scrapped the new labor law that offered reduced job protection to young workers, pitched as a way to reduce youth unemployment.

Chirac replaced the law with a plan to curb joblessness among young people, in the form of government-subsidized job programs and training, and temporary subsidies or tax breaks for companies unskilled hiring youth workers on permanent contracts.

The French business community is screaming, of course. And international commentators from the business community are screaming. I don't doubt that the international corporate world will, in fact, do everything in their power to hurt the French economy as a result of this, as part of their effort to convince us all that economic life is now a case of "their way or the highway." I think this is the clearest case to date of corporate power trying to intimidate national power.

Round 1 in the overt fight between nations and corporations.  This fight is a lot more important to all of us than you'd ever guess from the American press coverage.  Note for example that the Bloomberg story actually describes as a fact that the now-dead law was "intended to reduce youth unemployment."  That's the business community's story, of course, but very much disputed by the French workers, who saw it being intended as merely the first crack in the French employment laws, with the ultimate goal of making French workers just as powerless as American workers are discovering they are.