Hein (fub) wrote,

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French student demonstrations

I don't know all of the background behind the demonstrations, and the whole thing meets with incredulous posts by some Americans who seem to think that every French person with a job will have life-long employment no matter what.

Of course, that is not the case. If the company has clear reasons why they want to lay someone off, they can do so -- it's just that you have to prove that your business will be better without that particular person. Given the mass layoffs that we've seen in recent years (and now I'm guessing that the French system isn't too different from the Dutch system), I don't think anyone with a comany that's losing money is having problems getting rid of their people. Lifelong employment is a fairy tale that no-one believe in anymore -- not even the staunchest socialist.

The Americans point out that, if the barrier to entry is lowered, more businesses will hire young people because the risks are lower, resulting in more jobs for young people.
While that may be true, this new law has two major flaws:

- It marginalises young people while protecting older people. Of course the self-serving babyboomers will never give up their privileges -- let the young worry and toil! But they are forgetting that if you want your youngster to grow up to be responsible people with respectable jobs, you will have to allow them to participate.
Basically, the government is saying to the French people under 26: "Look, you're not really grown up, so you should just be happy with whatever job you can get. Only people over 27 are mature enough to participate fully in society: renting apartments or buying houses, settling down and having a family. Now sit down and be quiet!"
That is not the way to nurture the next generation of leaders. If you keep your younger generations dumb and in indentured servitude (which does seem to be the strategy, but that's a rant for another time), they can never build something, they can never grow. When it is their turn in the spotlight (remember, they will have to provide for all you babyboomers pensions!), they will not have the skills needed to succeed.

- It gives the wrong incentives to employers. Sure, they will be encouraged to hire people under 26. But once they hit 26 or after two years (whichever comes first) they will fire these people, just before the benefits clause kicks in. Why invest in young people if you can just get away with firing them and hiring another young person?
When you turn 27, you will suddenly have to compete with people younger than you, who can be fired on a moments' notice. If the new law has given your erstwhile employer the incentive to hire you, will that not also mean that the incentives will dissapear the moment you're no longer part of the target audience of the new law? And because of that law, your employer doesn't have to explain anything to anybody when he fires you -- how convenient!

If you don't think that this would happen, then you are stupid. It will happen. Hell, it's even happening right now with klik. You see, to 'protect' freelancers and 'flexible workers', there is a maximum period of three years that you can give people temporary contracts. After that, you will have to offer them a long-term contract.
So what do the employers do? They hire people on a temporary contract. They extend that contract twice. And then they fire you. It doesn't matter that you're better at your job than your colleagues -- your time is up! The day after you leave, another worker comes in at a temporary contract, and you're forgotten quite quickly. (Of course, the babyboomers who are vastly less effective at the same job than you, but cost your employer roughly twice as much, will retain their job. That's how it works, after all.)
We already know that, come November, klik will be without a job. The incentives to hire her have dissapeared, so they fire her (or technically, don't re-hire her) -- no matter how good she performs her job.

One could point out that it is precisely the fact that it is hard to fire employees, that gives rise to these hiring (and firing) practices. And one would be right. But giving some people 'protection' and others not will only disadvantage those who are on the verge of falling under the protection.
The best course of action that the French government could take (if they insist on taking action), is to make it easy to fire everyone, regardless of their age. And while they're at it, they should do away with the 'last in, first out' principle: it gives too much protection to overpaid and underperforming workers.
Tags: rant, society

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