13 April 2006 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

BY Justin Moran

French workers and students smash labour law

In a second major victory for the French left in two years, following the defeat of the EU Constitution last year, workers and students have forced the government to withdraw controversial youth employment reforms following months of protests by millions of citizens.

Instead of proposals that would have seen employers able to fire young people more easily, the government has committed €450 million over the next two years to deal with youth unemployment, which is as high as 22% among 16-23 year olds in France.

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has welcomed, "a victory for workers across the EU."

"Over this past number of years there has been a relentless drive towards eroding the rights and conditions of employees in favour of the employer," she said. "However, there is also a fight-back occurring across Europe to this type of EU, and what it stands for.

"Opposition to the EU Services Directive, Port Services Directive and the treatment of the GAMA workers amongst others, is further proof that people do care about our public services and the protection of the rights of our workers."

While delighted at the result, workers and student leaders in France have pledged to monitor closely the actions of the government over the next few weeks, and some are urging that the momentum be kept up to force the repeal of a whole series of laws that discriminate against young people.

Union merger strengthens IMPACT

Ireland's largest public sector union, IMPACT, is to gain an extra 1,200 members following the decision of the Federated Union of Government Employees to merge with the 55,000 member strong union.

The Federated Union of Government Employees was formed in the 1950s and represents services officers, court staff, cleaning staff, laboratory attendants and store keepers in Government departments. It will now be structured as one of IMPACT's largest branches.

Its General Secretary, Mick Coffey, said, "We have created a better organisation with more influence.

"This merger will give our members a stronger voice on vital issues like decentralisation and low pay."


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