...Continued from page 1

The government, which has about 20 other 'hot' conflicts on its plate, says it's going to stand firm. It intends to launch a package of civics lessons, maybe next week, to 'sell' its 'gesture of solidarity.'

Union leaders say that salaried employees aren't going to buy it. They've already taken two hits – thephoto, poster ps, oui retirement 'counter–reform' and the loosening of the 35–hour week – and are unlikely to accept working an extra eight hours. Unions are suggesting not working or a day of strikes.

Employees point out that salaries are stagnant while profits and dividends are exploding. Investors are not being asked to 'work' an extra day. It remains to be seen how many government ministers will be working on 16. May. Will they be feeling more 'guilty' than civilians?

The administration of the region of the Gard decided to work on Easter Monday instead of Pentecôte, so that the bullfight weekend at Nîmes could go ahead normally. Parents of students were unable to find out if teachers were working or not. School buses ran, but transported only 2000 kids out of 28,000. The city hall at Nîmes was closed – and will be closed again at Pentecôte – everybody must be a bullfight fan.

It is never mentioned that all the money the government has, it gets from taxpayers. It is not the government's money but you would never know it. This plan to work an extra day is a form of tax of course, invented by the government rather than by public opinion – so it hardly surprising that it is meeting some resistance.

It is also curious to see the government step blindly into another patch of sticky quicksand when it is whining about peddling a 'yes' vote for the referendum about the European Constitution.

The issues are unconnected, but the French seem unable to remember that the same government that is apparentlyphoto, freetime boules doing so little to reduce high unemployment, is cutting benefits and dreaming up new taxes, and is proposing unpopular social 'counter–reforms' – is truly a government concerned with the best interests of all the French.

Free time for – boules?

Many say that it is the 'liberal'* economic provisions of the European Constitution that are unacceptable. The French should know – what they fear Europe might do, they think is already being done to them by their current right–wing government.

*'Liberal' – as a French word, it is a synonym for Maggie 'Lady' Thatcher– type capitalism, run amok. The leader of France's Socialists assures all that we should vote 'yes' for the referendum because all 25 European Socialist parties are for it. A minority of Socialists disagree, along with the Communists.

Click here for referendum info, in French. There are five weeks left until the polls for the referendum open in France on Sunday, 29 May.

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