Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Working in France.... With the CPE

As you may have know by now the riots in France due to introduction of the new employment law/contract (Contrat Premièr Embauche/Emploi - First Employment Contract) by the French PM. I would like to point out why the French youngsters are really overreacting by burning cars, and having demo rallies over starting/continuing their study/exams.
  • Unlike the our French counterpart, the rest of the world are working at least 48 hours a week and for Swiss sometimes up to 60 hours/week, depending on industry. The French system is having a minimum 35 hours/week of working hours. Most employees will start to count their overtime pay if/when they work more hours base on this minimum. I'm not to sure about the rest of world, over here the Swiss believe in working long hours, hence the need to justify the salary they earn. The salaries here are generally 2 to 3 times higher than most European countries. But then again it is also a country with high living cost. I seriously don't think that the French realize this when they pick up their demo banner and chant at their rallies; they have the shortest average working hours in the world!

  • As far as I know, France have 5 full weeks of annual vacation (annual leave) a year, minimum 16 weeks of maternity leave, 11 national public holidays and 11 days of paternity leave... Here we have only minimum 4 weeks of annual leave (up to max. 5 weeks depending on company), 14 weeks of maternity leave and only 7 days of public holidays (depending on which canton you work/live). In Malaysia, its only 14 days annual leave, 60 days of maternity leave (up to 90 days if employed for more then 9 months) and about 14 days of public holidays (national level). The rest of the world, average of 14 days annual paid leave, about 44 hours/week of work and 8 to 10 days of public holidays. Now tell me the French don't have an easy working conditions based on their annual paid leave etc? Haven't they had enough of holidaying in a year then the rest of world and what right do they have to complain further? I personally don't see what's the fuss about anyways.

  • With the many type of work contract going around the world, why do they need CPE when they already have about 5 different types of working working contracts? Well, I for one would say that younger generations of French are afraid to even begin to look for a job to loose one just yet! Under the CPE, employers can fire first time employees anytime. Well tell me this, why would an employer fire you without giving you a good reason to fire at anytime? To me its clear that younger generation French are sending out messages to employers that they are plain lazy and don't want to work hard to keep their earn. They want that employers not fire them at anytime (even given good reasons to do so), more holidays, less work and more pay. This ladies and gentlement, IS the mentality of and the message sending out to the rest of the world by those who actually participated at recent protests and demo rallies.

I can't help but wonder what would business owners think when and if they want to invest in France. They (business owners) are already paying more taxes in France than the rest of the world, are facing annual demo rallies by various workers union every year, increasing cost of labour and are time and again forced to bereckond with "overprotected" French employees. If I am Bill Gates I would run so far away from France and settle my investment in a country which IS investor and worker friendly i.e. in terms ofspeciall tax cuts, stable political environment, laws that are minimum and regulated by the government as to protect and not over protect employees.

Seriously, French youngsters are so naive and are overreacting! The Act is not being implementedd YET! Why are they resulting in violent rallies when they should talk and negociate a better deal together with their government? Don't they know that IF they are qualified, hard working and that their performance exceed the expectations of their perspective employers, they don't have to be afraid of being fired at anytime? The CPE, as according to Mr. De Villepin, is for the ones (26 yrs and less) who are not in possession of any skilled or professional qualification (paper or vocational) to gain employment, are entitled to rent accommodationn, are negotiable with perspective employers, they are entitled to compensation/unemployment beneift (IF/WHEN fired) and like the rest of the world, dismissal notice will be given. So what are they afraid off? What is the real reason behind this fear? Why don't they see that French youth unemployment are one of the highest in Europe and the government are trying to ease the rates with that they doing now. Things won't move forward without cooperation from both sides. Needless to say I really pity the French economic future.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The wonderful world of cooking

My Pretzels baking in the oven!

Today I finally feel good enough to actually slave in the kitchen for several hours just to make pretzels! Yes, you've heard correct, P-R-E-T-Z-E-L-S.... Now some of you might be wondering, "why make it when you can get them from Auntie Anne's down some shopping centers?" Well, first I'm not in USA, Singapore or Malaysia. I'm still in this freaking country called Switzerland and we don't have Auntie Anne's here. While the rest of the world has Starbucks ages ago, we only have them for 3 years... That's right, only 3 freaking years. So needless to say about Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, KFCs, Nando's, Auntie Anne's etc. And there's only one Hooter's restaurant here and its at Interlaken (about 3 and half hours drive from my place). My point is that we'll have to wait a long time for Auntie Anne's or the rest to come here.

Final results... Garlic pretzels!

So back to the subject; cooking... The last time I remembered correctly when I really enjoy "slaving" in the kitchen was about 3 years ago. I was almost always, baking, steaming, frying, chopping, freezing etc. And boy did my science project got someone fat then!! hehehehe... I got almost all of the recipes off the Internet, from to There's thousands of similar recipes around, with different ingredients but most of them have almost similar methods and directions. The trick is to kinda experiment a little with ingredients like I did with the pretzels. Found 2 pretzel recipes ( and and improvise a little on the ingredients and the directions. After some kneading, folding, waiting for it to double in size, shaping and dipping, I managed to have the final results! there's nothing like making something with your own hands and reap the wonderful (sometimes almost wonderful) reward. I think its the most satisfying feeling of accomplishment and a little bit of pride mixed in between.

Last week I made my first blueberry and raspberry yogurt ice-cream. It is edible but need a little improvement on the freezing process. The thing about cooking is that we're allow to creative and logic (in terms of mixing and complimenting the ingredients). But if things go wrong, it makes us want to find out what and where it went wrong in the first place. Thus giving us the opportunity to solve the problem. Another element crucial to any of our kitchen "experiments" are our "test rats"! They have to give us honest answers (no pleasing the cook!) and we have to be open enough to receive criticisms. Think of it as a road to progress. It makes me motivated to try again the next time and to be good at it.

Cooking I think is a long term learning process and it takes interest (a lot of it) to be able to motivate us to be good at it. And to be really good at it takes lots of trial and errors, just like life (or part of it). But then again no one would admit to be really good at life isn't it? For now I guess I'll just keep on cooking up something different now and again. Who knows, I might come up with something orgininal?