Sunday, November 18, 2007

Strike two

We in the city of lights are currently experiencing the second strike period of the autumn. It started out in nice sunny, crisp weather with people rallying round and organising car-pools, cheerfully hopping on Vélibs and there generally being an air of acceptance, not agreement, but acceptance of the situation. In 1995 when Paris and the rest of France lived through 3 weeks of much tougher strike action (there was literally no métro), the general feeling was that the strikers were right and they should support them. This time, with the private sector dealing with retirement at 60 or 65, the public sector with its mid-life retirement age of 50 or 55, sympathy is much less readily available.

It's true that working on the railways was tough work with dangerous conditions and rail workers suffered much more than those snugly warm in offices. When the retirement age for these workers was being defined, it was a very different job from what it is today. Forgive me for my ignorance, but from what I've seen in the Paris underground, driving a métro train is little more than pushing a button or two. I can't speak with any kind of authority, but it seems to be not incredibly taxing.

So, whether they are right or wrong, the strike goes on. This week the weather forecast is rain and more rain, so I fear the cheery Vélibbers are not going to be quite so eager to get out on their bikes this week. I was going to be among them, but I'm counting on the driverless (so therefore not on strike) line 14 to get me nearer to where I want to go. However, I have the feeling the rest of Paris will do the same. Vive la différence....

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