by Jerome a Paris
Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 06:19:19 AM EST
Social tensions have been increasing in France lately, but have been kept in check so far as the government has abandoned various "reforms" (most recently one on universities) and a high level social summit between Sarkozy and selected union leaders is taking place tomorrow, with announcements expected just after it (Sarkozy has booked TV time to make announcements, expected to include higher compensation for temporary unemployment). Sarkozy's tactics are to avoid anything that would be a pretext for social unrest, and to do everything to break the unity of the unions, by buying off some of them with selected reforms these have been calling for.
Unfortunately, he has not been as careful with the rather large demonstrations that have taken place in the Caribean island of Guadeloupe, where island-wide strikes have been underway for a couple of weeks now, and early attemtps to buy them out (via pay increase supported by the relevant Minister in the form of lower social charges for companies) were cancelled by Sarkozy out of fear of creating a dangerous precedent. But the demonstrations have been turning violent in the past 2 days, and a union leader was killed this morning, an event certain to inflame the situation, and making it likely that it will spread to other islands, and possibly to metropolitan France too.
Things could get "interesting" quickly.