Nicolas Sarkozy could be on a collision course with French labor unions over his "economic evolution." The president-elect wooed voters with proposals to extend the 35-hour work week, slash welfare, curb the right to strike and cut taxes. But even as Sarkozy headed to Malta before taking office next week, union leaders were flexing muscles.
"All attempts to pass things by force would backfire," labor chief Jean-Claude Mailly tells the Guardian darkly, recalling the crippling general strikes that frustrated Jacques Chirac when he took office in 1995 and tried to push through change. Sarkozy's victory at the polls has been greeted by widespread rioting in Paris and other cities.