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French press review 21 May 2015

Text by: Matthew Kay
6 min

After middle school teachers, who were on strike earlier this week, it was the turn of hospital staff to down scalpels Thursday in protest of plans to increase their hours. Both leftist Libération and communist L'Humanité lead with the anger of hospital staff who say they are already worked to within an inch of their lives.


"Hospitals - The last chance before burn out," warns the headline of Libération.

Inside the paper, the editorial says the 35-hour working week "was a good idea" but it wasn't so clever to apply it so strictly across all of France's sectors, such as in hospitals.

The paper says that with the country's debt woes the head of Paris's regional hospitals, Martin Hirsch, has decided to put his "boot in the hornet's nest."

Hirsch himself says the reforms do not call the 35-hour week into question for health workers, but that it's simply a reorganisation of working hours.

The unions are having none of it.

L'Humanité reports on a day in the life of medical assistants in Paris. The headline claims that the reality is far from what the capitalists would have you believe.

"We work more than 45 hours a week," reads the banner. One of the workers interviewed says that the 35-hour week is nothing more than "theoretical" with most people from surgeons to cleaners regularly putting in overtime.

So, who should we believe? Libé says with so many employees it is almost impossible to get a clear picture.

Conservative Le Figaro and centrist Le Monde lead with the middle school reforms which took a step closer to their conclusion yesterday with the government officially publishing its intent to go ahead with the changes.

After what Le Monde describes as a "relative failure" of Tuesday's teachers' strike, the government has decided to speed up the reform.

Called into question will be so-called bilingual classes, which the Socialist government claims help children of the the cosmopolitan middle classes who leave their poorer counterparts in their wake.

Instead, as of the age of 12, all students, rich and poor will have to follow a second foreign language.

Le Figaro salutes the government's determination, but says more strikes are sure to follow.

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