French students set to strike

May 16, 1997

France's students have warned of trouble for the next government if it fails to implement university reforms.

Pouria Amirshahi, re-elected president of the largest union, the pro-socialist UNEF-ID said: "The future education minister will not experience peace in the universities." He called for an October strike after pressure from the union's radical wing at its annual congress.

The UNEF-ID leadership claims its role in the protracted negotiations with education minister Francois Bayrou resulted in course reform "imposed by the students".

But if ministerial pledges are not now made good, some student activists warn that the union's involvement in ministerial working parties risks being exploited by the ministry.

Similar fears were voiced at the congress of the second largest union, the pro-communist UNEF, whose leadership came under fire for abstaining rather than voting against the course reform adopted at the end of the negotiating process.

Karine Delpas, its newly elected president, argued that "the reform was a victory won by the students" and warned Mr Bayrou that he "has to take that into account for the implementation of the reform".

The legislative elections disrupt the reform process, under way since the 1995 student strikes, at its most crucial point. Course reform has been approved, but a series of measures are needed to ensure it will be implemented.

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