Oh boy. This is going to be a big one. You can feel it building up already, and we’re only Tuesday night.
WHY? To oppose the government’s recent pension reform.
WHO? Everyone, it seems. But primarily the national trade unions who are calling on their adherents to stop work and strike –
The CFDT (Conféderation française démocratique du travail)
The CFE-CGC (Conféderation française de l’encadrement et la Conféderation génerale des cadres)
The CFTC (Conféderation française des travailleurs chrétiens)
The CGT (Conféderation générale du travail) – The General Confederation of Labor is a nation-wide trade union founded in 1895 in the city of Limoges, the first of the five major French confederations of trade unions, the largest in terms of votes, and second largest in terms of membership (around 720,000 members.)
The FO (Force ouvrière) – Founded in 1948 by former members of the CGT who denounced the dominance of the French Communist Party, the FO is a member of the European Trade Union Confederation.
The FSU (Féderation syndicale unitaire) – The Fédération syndicale unitaire is the main trade union in the education sector in France and the largest trade union in the public sector. It has 162,000 members, of whom 88% are teachers.
The UNSA, UNEF and others.
SO WHAT EXACTLY WERE PRESIDENT MACRON’S REFORMS? To raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64. Before 2011, the minimum retirement age was 60. No matter that in all other industrialized nations the legal retirement age is higher and has been higher for decades (in Canada I have always known it to be 65), the French have always believed themselves to be an exception to the rule (and exceptional.)
So for that reason, strikers will oppose the new reforms and the country will come to a standstill on Thursday. But the big question is: what about our office party?? We still have to get across town during rush hour when the streets and metro lines will be pandemonium. The original idea of hiring private coaches has been scrapped. Now, it’s an “every man for himself” situation. There are only two metro lines that are automated (driverless): line 1 and line 14. These are the lines we need to take to get to Bercy Village. But with all the other lines shut down or running at half capacity, this means that over a million commuters will be shoving and pushing themselves into crammed trains on those two lines. I can see it now, this isn’t my first polka. The platforms will be packed solid. Chock-full trains will pull into the station and depart. Tempers will flare, fights will break out and it’ll take hours for tired people to get home.
I’m not against trade unions. Au contraire. I’m glad that France has them, and so many. But I don’t always agree with their demands.
To be continued.