French opposition downplays talk of revolt

26th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

Despite strikes, student protests and a wave of "bossnappings" by workers angry over lay-offs, France is not on the verge of a revolt, opposition Socialist leader Martine Aubry said in an interview Sunday.

PARIS - Despite strikes, student protests and a wave of "bossnappings" by workers angry over lay-offs, France is not on the verge of a revolt, opposition Socialist leader Martine Aubry said in an interview Sunday.

Former centre-right prime minister Dominique de Villepin this month spoke of a "revolutionary risk" in France from the protests and radical actions taken by workers, but Aubry disagreed.

"I wouldn't say that," she told Le Journal du Dimanche, when asked about a possible repeat of the May 1968 revolt that grew out of student protests.

"But there is anger everywhere, in factories, in universities, in hospitals, in neighborhoods," said Aubry, head of the Socialist Party.

France is bracing for more demonstrations and strikes on Friday for the May 1st Labour Day, the third nationwide day of protests in three months against President Nicolas Sarkozy's handling of the economic crisis.

"The president listens to no one," said Aubry. "Not the opposition... not the unions... When you have the impression of being treated with contempt, you resort to other forms of expression, more violent. This is regrettable."

The May Day demonstrations come as workers facing layoffs at several factories have taken their bosses captive to demand better compensation packages.

Sarkozy has vowed to end the practice and the opposition has said that while such action is illegal, the despair felt over job losses must be met with some understanding.

"The workers do not accept a biased approach, in which some get golden parachutes and others get fired," said Aubry.

Worker anger has been fueled by generous severance payoffs and bonuses given to executives from some banks bailed out by the French state.

French politicians have been at pains to address the climate of social unrest that has also seen workers vent their anger over the closure of a German-owned factory by trashing a government building.

Former prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin warned separately in an interview to Le Monde on Sunday that taking bosses captive undermined France's image with international investors.

"Our country is hot-blooded," Raffarin commented. "There are social tensions... We need to be very careful about preserving social cohesion."

AFP / Expatica

0 Comments To This Article