Strike Day in France
Today Thursday, January 29, is a good day not to go to France. All French unions have called for a general strike to express their fears about jobs, salaries, purchasing power and benefits amid the global economic crisis.
According to the IHT:
The strike is expected to seriously disturb traffic on the railways and public transport systems throughout France.
The civil aviation authority official says it is likely to trigger procedures under a French law that requires at least a minimum number of air traffic controllers to show up for work in times of strikes. He demanded anonymity in advance of a formal announcement.
Under the strike procedure, at least 30 percent of flights would have to be guaranteed.
Le Figaro provides details:
The national education system will be operating with greatly reduced personnel: the unions claim that 70% of primary school employees and 50 to 60% of middle and high school employees will be honoring the call to strike. But Education Minister Xavier Darcos cuts those figures almost in half. The strikers are protesting "job cuts, and are demanding higher salaries, and schools that ensure success for all young people." Despite the assurance of minimal services in the elementary schools, the Mayor of Paris is urging parents not to send their children to school, since 90,000 children would need to be looked after.
In the area of public service, the unions are calling on five million public servants, including those in public hospitals, to participate in the strike.
Other areas sure to be affected include the courts, television and radio stations, newspapers, telephones, post offices, gas and electricity, ports and docks, banks and certain industries such as Renault, Peugeot-Citroën, Auchan, helicopters pilots, operators of ski lifts, stock exchange employees, and Virgin stores...
The French press regards the strikes as a test of Nicolas Sarkozy's power. An article from Yahoo gives a resumé of what some regional newspapers are saying. As one example, La République du Centre suggests that:
Nicolas Sarkozy is not entirely alien to the feeling of anxiety and exasperation that France is now experiencing. His style of governing, too willingly provocative, has aroused a desire for revenge, His diatribes against bankers and venture capitalists, have fed, in public opinion, an unsatisfied demand for reparations.
However, Le Conservateur sees the work stoppage among public servants as almost "pornographic" since they will benefit from the effects of the economic crisis, without having been affected by it in the first place:
Astounding, the number of people who were not even touched by the economic crisis, but who will benefit from it, thanks to the reduction of inflation, or major price reductions on certain products, or the reductions of housing costs, and who dare set into motion a day of national strike action. This level of mockery is pornography...
A stony silence about this paradox from the media, of course. They prefer to concentrate on the stock options of big businessmen, that have almost no weight compared to the socialist-unionist circus choking France.
I'm beginning to see around me victims of the crisis: people who have to leave the country with their families to save their job, people who file for bankruptcy of an entrepreneurial effort that took all their savings and years of work. Those folks, on Thursday, will have to march with heads lowered, and be subjected to the idiotic litanies of inebriated strikers, and to the complaints of the powerless citizen who allowed the State to take up too much space in his life.
Frankly, some Molotov cocktails are being wasted...
He received quite a bit flack from readers who feel he is being unfair to public servants. According to these readers not all functionaries fare well, they have difficult jobs to do and Sarkozy belittles them every chance he gets. Le Conservateur responds that they fare better than workers in the private sector. He adds that some like to use his blog as a way of accusing him of being "ultra-liberal" (economically liberal, of course):
(...) when all I am doing is describing the legitimate discontent of many citizens who are always told to be silent and to pay, while others, like capricious children, always want more at others expense (...)
Note: If these strikes are similar to previous strikes under Sarkozy, there will be few repercussions, and Sarkozy will make manifold promises to everyone (with a nod here and there to the need for tightening the belt), in exchange for civil peace. He will then appear to be the victor in the "struggle" between a "right-wing" government and the Left.
P.S. Congratulations to Le Conservateur on his millionth visitor.