dimanche, mars 26, 2006

CPE, the new reason for the riots here

Less than 6 months and France is in the news for the same reason. There are riots again. It started as peaceful demonstrations by students and ended up with hooligans burning cars and rioting. CNN was first at hand to show the amercians footage of burning cars. I spoke to mom and she asked if everything is fine here. Everything is fine. It's a wonder how the TV news reports out of proportion the situation. They usually make a small news spectacular with sensational headlines, music and some seconds of disturbing footage.

Once again, I had to explain. These riots had nothing in connection with last Nov's riots. There are only a few. The First Minister recently set up a new contract for the first employment. It is known as CPE (Contrat Premiere Embauche); Contract of the first employment. This is meant for young job seekers below 26 years old. With CPE, you can be sacked anytime without any reason in your first 2 years of so-called probation. What horror!

Well, you have to understand the economy in France. This is not a simple right or wrong contract. There are about 10% of unemployment in France and a high percentage of youths could not find jobs after graduation. So, the right-wing government decided to create this contract to combat this issue.

Of course, employers are very happy as France's strict labour law makes it really difficult to sack an employee. There must be valid justifications that are quantitative. Just saying that this employee is under performing and he has to go is not enough. You will have to compensate him. However, there may be a risk that large companies will employ youths and sack them before their two years contract is up.

So, on the other side of the fence are the students and labour unions. Think about it, after many years of studies, you ended up with a CPE job. You cannot commit into projects like buying a house, planning the future etc. One, you have no idea if you will still have your job after two years as your company can replace you without reason in order to employ someone younger than you. Cost saving for the company? Also, how can you borrow money from a bank if you want to buy a house? Will banks be willing to lend money to someone with a two years contract? The risk that the person cannot repay the loan if he is sack is too high.

And there you are, students protesting in the streets, at schools. Who's side are you on? I guess it depends if you are under 26 or if you are a patron of an enterprise. For me, I am neither. I prefer to sit on the fence.

For further reading, check out on BBC. But I can't say if the reporting is fair. From what I read, they seem to be interviewing more of the bosses than the under 26.

jeudi, mars 16, 2006


Last Sunday, I had lunch at rue Saint Anne which was nearby Opera. While walking to the train station, I saw this interesting ad at the bus stop. An idea isn't it?
It is not a poster but a hang up of real clothes. 100% 3-D and I feel it real cool.

vendredi, mars 10, 2006

Are you at a cross junction or T-junction?

I thought of this song today. A song that I had not heard or sung since a long time. At this precise moment, I could not get this song out of my head. I need it as I feel like I am standing at a cross junction. There are roads ahead but my engine is dead. I can't move forward. I need a start-up and a signal light. I hope this song will minister to you as much as it does for me now.

God Will Make A Way
Words and music by Don Moen
Proverbs 3:6
"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. "

God will make a way,
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way.

By a roadway in the wilderness, He'll lead me
And rivers in the desert will I see
Heaven and earth will fade
But His Word will still remain
He will do something new today.

lundi, mars 06, 2006

Marching to an Oscar

I am so delighted to annouce to those who still have no idea which film bagged an oscar for the Best Documentary Feature.
It is none other than 'March of the Penguins'. I watched it in french during my flight on Malaysia Airlines last year. It was super touching. It was simply narrated and there were many moving scenes.
It really deserves this award.
Now, this french produced film has been translated by Morgan Freeman for the US market. Friends, if this film is aired in Singapore, I strongly encourage you to watch it.
If you complain about raising your kids, wait until you see how the penguins do it.

mercredi, mars 01, 2006

1 Mars

1 March 2006. My first blog for this month.
Nicole came visiting last weekend and I took 2 days leave to visit Paris with her. We had fun. It is amazing the number of places we had not visited in Paris. Nicole was in Paris for a year last year and I met her through our french lessons.

We visited Basilica of Saint-Denis, the cathedral which houses the tombs of the royals. There are tombs of 46 kings, 32 queens, 63 princes and princesses as well as 10 great officers of the Crown who laid there until the French Revolution. Today, we are still able to see the tombs from many hundred years ago. It is really amazing.

Catherine de Medicis was laid there with her husband. She was the one who instigated the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre on the eve of her daughter, Queen Margot's marriage to Henry IV. There are great paintings of this massacre. But we will leave the painting topic to another day.

There is also the tomb of Philip le Bel (the fair). The tomb of his son, Louis X is also there. Louis X's wife had an affair and Louis X was never sure that his daughter Jeanne was really his. However, I was surprised to find her tomb just beside his. Also, the tomb of the baby son of Louis X by his second wife is there as well. It is really interesting to have read and watch this story from 'Le Rois Maudits' and then to really see these tombs for real.

We visited St-Germain l'Auxerrois. This is the church favored by the kings who attended mass there as it is just nearby the Louvre. This is also where Queen Margot married her husband, the future king Henry IV. The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre happened just nearby this area. To understand this day better, I would invite you to watch this film, La Reine Margot.

We visited Sainte-Chapelle. This is really the place that one should not miss. I am in Paris since two years and I never really bother to find out more about this small chapel hidden in the court of the Palace of Justice. I cannot describe more about this chapel. You have to see it to believe the beauty of the stained glasses.

Of course, we visited the streets of Paris and the places we used to hang out. Including a beer at Coolin's.