BIO 2006 Vignette—France Is Falling Apart


Chicago–April 12–The Biotechnology Industry Organization's annual convention attracts thousands of biotechies from around the world. I happened to sit down at lunch today beside Emmanuelle Voisin. Mme. Voisin runs her own consulting company in Paris where she advises firms on how to conduct clinical trials.

Naturally I asked her what she thought about the recent labor protests in France. Mme. Voisin's face grew grave. "We are completely shocked," she said. She explained that the unions now run her country after French President Chirac backed down on the new labor law that would have allowed employers to hire and fire young workers at will.

"People want to get paid, but they don't want to work," said Mme. Voisin. She also said that when she has had to fire people for not working, she has to pay them up to a year's salary just so they won't sue her. "France is falling apart," she glumly said. Finally, Mme. Voisin saId, "My children will not live in France." I asked her where her 15 and 16 year old kids will live. She gestured down to the floor and declared, "Here!"