Friday, April 07, 2006

Vive La France!

The French government looks ready to drop its timid employment law reform. So their unemployment will stay high and smart French people will continue to flood to the UK.

The only job now at risk from the reform is that of the Prime Minister who proposed it:

Dominique de Villepin vowed today to battle on "until the end", rejecting speculation that he might resign over a youth job law that has brought millions of protesters onto the streets of France. He has also been weakened inside the ruling party after President Jacques Chirac went on national television last Friday night to appease the strikers by promising changes to the (new law).

The French Prime Minister’s popularity has slumped during weeks of strikes and demonstrations against his (new law that) allows employers to summarily fire workers under the age of 26 during the first two years, without stating a reason. Some 50 universities remained disrupted across France as students continue protests.

Here are the thoughts of a French refugee to the UK (my ellipsis):

His self-published book, Enfin un Boulot! (At last a job), advises young compatriots how to join the flood of French who have turned their backs on a stifling employment market at home in favour of "le modèle Anglo-Saxon".

"No French government wants to be honest with the people," (he) said. "But times are hard and what we need is something like our own Maggie Thatcher, if maybe not so tough.

He said he was fed up with hearing the French moan about British "invaders" forcing up house prices. He said: "There are 174,000 Britons who live permanently in France - but 300,000 French people who have moved to the United Kingdom."

"We cannot go on believing we can afford the social system we have, keeping people in universities until they leave with skills that are useless to the world outside."

(He) decided to leave France after hearing a professor tell students to continue studying as long as possible because "there is no work for you".

So he moved to the UK, which - unlike France - welcomes workers from all 25 EU nations.

After finding work in a call centre, he changed jobs several times and now earns between £40,000 and £50,000 a year as a project manager with a firm providing technological services to lawyers. "...I would not be considered qualified in France to do what I do in London. The best I could have hoped for would have been a little bank job earning half as much."

(His) Parisian girlfriend...overcame initial reluctance to join him in London and works as a marketing manager in telecommunications.

His comments on the Brits are interesting:
"It can be difficult to make English friends because the way we think is so different," he said. "Health and public transport systems are not as good but we love our life here: the open-mindedness that allows everyone from the boss to the cleaner to have a drink together after work."
France, a highly centralized & low trust society, seems locked in the socialist model that Maggie enabled the Brits to escape. A majority of French people feed off the state and most have statist mindsets. That's hard to change.

So Brit culture, cuisine and businesses will continue to be enriched by all those smart French refugees.