Home > Uncategorized > France still under strike tension with increasing violence

France still under strike tension with increasing violence

Environ 1 200 personnes ont convergé vers la Guillotière. Certaines en ont profité pour se défouler / Stéphane Guiochon (Le Progrès)

So “la révolution” continues. More like an increasingly violent rebellion lead by stubborn individuals who do not seem to understand the principles of economics. But la vie continue, and the government will eventually win. I certainly understand frustration with Sarkozy and his administration, as they have not been exactly stragetic in their communications, and financial corruption within undermines their image (like l’affaire Bettencourt, etc.) but the underlying truth is that retirement reform is needed, and 62 is quite a modest start. Here is a guide about how the reform will likely affect you.

President Sarkozy is still planning on facilitating the labor market to boost employment, so those concerned with unemployment are right to raise their voices, but they should not be disrupting the economic activity and well-being of the country; there are other means of communication than provocation in the street and taking the country hostage. For now, here is an update on the situation…

Violent incidents continue between protesters and police in Lyon’s downtown Presqu’île district, and you can see more coverage of this here and here by the local Lyon newspaper Le Progrès. The TCL public transport system is still shut down in the downtown area, for security measures. According to a Lyon Le Progrès poll, 65% of respondents think that the strike movement will not end soon. You can see pictures of the Lyon action here.

Meanwhile in Marseille, the airport was blocked this morning by strikers in addition to other disturbances throughout the city (public transport and ports blocked, garbage not collected…pictures from Marseille courtesy of BBC.) This action and others have disrupted daily life for many French, and even Lady Gaga has decided to postpone her Paris shows from Oct. 22-23 to Dec. 19-20. On the Paris RER suburban rail network, there were spontaneous disruptions throughout Thursday despite overall improvements on the RATP public transport system (with some disruptions, look under “traffic”) and the SNCF national railway system (though there are still delays). Fuel shortages still persist, with over 25% of gas stations empty, almost 2000 more short on products and this could disrupt Toussaint (All Saints) vacation weekend Nov. 1. But the situation is gradually improving with government forces intervening to gain access to fuel depots.

Meanwhile, national buffoon and desparately in need of a haircut, Bernard Thibault (leader of the CGT union) has called for a new day of strikes next week. They are planning to announce the 1st day for next week, either Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, and the 2nd day of strikes would be either Saturday Oct. 30 or Sat. Nov. 6. Now they’re striking on the weekends, that’s just great. If they strike on the holiday weekend, there just might be an insurrection against the SNCF.

Students, both university and high school, are becoming increasingly involved in the strikes and demonstrations (and violence), with hundreds of schools blockaded throughout the country and up to 10 universities blocked as well.

What is happening in the government?

They are trying to accelerate the reform currently being debated in the Senate, with the text to be reviewed by Friday evening, 254 amendments awaiting validation at the time of publication, and a commission of 7 National Assembly Deputies and 7 Senators, to vote on the entirety by next Thursday Oct. 28th at the latest. They have shown a willingness to discuss certain measures, notably a point system for pensions, to please unions like the CFDT, but this does not satisfy everyone.

Sarkozy remains firmly opposed to violent demonstrators, saying “they will not have the last word” and almost 2000 have been arrested since Oct. 12.

The New York Times covers this story well.

I’ll keep you updated.

  1. john paval
    October 21st, 2010 at 18:18 | #1

    Oh, if there is violence, the man responsible for it is none other than French president Sarkozy. He has ALWAYS been a man who provokes disturbance, and who does not hesitate to use force, that is, violence, in pursuit of his own agenda. People forget that, when Sarkozy was Minister of the Interior, charged with MAINTINING public order, France experience the most massive outbreaks of riots and violence since…well, since any time in history after World War II. What is happening now is that Sarkozy is ramming through the parliament a so called reform which the majority of the French people are against, knowing that his doing so will provoke widespread strikes and resistance. Sarkozy is an ugly, violent spirit. If there is anyone who does not understand economics, it’s Sarkozy. His intellect is about as whithered and limps as his…

    • October 21st, 2010 at 18:28 | #2

      Thank you for your comment, John. I agree with you that Sarkozy has been a controversial figure and often times too forceful with propositions; he seems to prefer hyperactivity to sitting down and discussing, so I understand there is a frustration against him and his administration. However, this reform is needed for the French economy. The retirement age was 65 before Mitterrand foolishly lowered it to 60 in 1981, making French people think retirement at 60 was somehow a “right” when in fact if you look at countries around the world and read the analysis of economists, retirement at 60 this day in age is a “privilege”. So Sarkozy and his advisors certainly do understand economics, but they appear to have neglected careful communication and consultation with all parties involved. I think the best thing for strikers to do is to vote in 2012 if they’re not happy. But even then, it looks like DSK might be the favorite candidate, and as he is an economist and IMF head, it would be highly unlikely he would go back on this reform as he knows it’s necessary. It’s hard, uncomfortable and frustrating, I understand there are valid concerns. Nonetheless, this is a reform that is necessary. The strikers and those blocking the country are hurting their cause.

  2. October 21st, 2010 at 20:13 | #3

    Oh la la.

    I hope this will all end soon.

  1. November 14th, 2010 at 20:26 | #1
  2. April 12th, 2011 at 15:14 | #2

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