Commuters give resigned shrug over strike

28th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 28, 2006 (AFP) - Braced for a nationwide strike across France over a youth employment law, Susana Guinto from the Philippines got up well before dawn Tuesday to make sure she arrived on time to the first of her four jobs in Paris.

PARIS, March 28, 2006 (AFP) - Braced for a nationwide strike across France over a youth employment law, Susana Guinto from the Philippines got up well before dawn Tuesday to make sure she arrived on time to the first of her four jobs in Paris.

Between 6.30am and 8.30pm, she works as a cleaner at the Bank of France, a law firm, a hotel and a private home.

Waiting for a metro at the Gare du Nord in Paris, she shrugged in resignation over the nationwide strike against a law that will make it easier for companies to dismiss employees under the age of 26 and with less than two years of service.

"After 20 years in France, I'm used to it," Guinto said.

When she first got here, she added, "you could choose work — now the work chooses you."

Despite predictions of massive disruptions, the morning rush hour in the capital was relatively smooth for many commuters. Metro services were operating normally or close to normal on most lines, and the transportation authority said only one line was seriously disrupted.

Suburban trains, however, were infrequent and crowded.

Christophe Murador, 38, a financial officer for a company based in the Netherlands, was relieved to see his Thalys express to Amsterdam waiting at the platform.

He said he could not understand "young people in France who are more afraid of being fired than of finding work. We've all been through that. It is better to do something than nothing."

The Eurostar express to London left on the dot, but one passenger, Pascal Challes, was unhappy nonetheless.

"I am fed up with the defeatist attitude of the French," the 47-year-old medical doctor said. "Seen from abroad, we have become a little bizarre, we are getting old and that makes me sad."

Challes said the wheel of fortune had turned against France, and added that he would encourage his children to leave and study in another country.

Hacer Moussouni, who emigrated from North Africa to France at the age of 25 ten years ago, said he understood why young people were up in arms.

Waiting for a train to take him to his job as a security guard at an automobile plant south of Paris, Moussouni said, "the young people are right. I have 10 years of struggle behind me — temporary contracts and layoffs, and more temporary contracts and more layoffs."

For the first time in his life, Moussouni said, he now has a permanent contract that assures him the kind of job security the strikers say they are fighting to keep.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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