On Tuesday heading home for my lunch after work I took the picture of these people heading off for a demonstration on the day of the national strike. Reports from both the Police (1.3 million) and the Unions (3.5 million) said it was the biggest strike so far in the campaign by the unions against the proposed changes to retirement benefits being put forward by the government, although there was the usual disagreement about the number of people who took part in the demonstrations. Yesterday on my way home from work my tram was stopped and the driver took it back to the depot so he could take part in a mass meeting to discuss what they will be doing next. I got off and walked across the major road that heads into Germany and came to the buildings for the Council covering the Strasbourg Urban area where there was this demonstration by workers for the council taking place to inform people about the strike on the coming Saturday 16th october and the demonstration in the Place De La Republique taking place on Saturday afternoon from 14:30. The leaflet I received said to bring family, friends, work colleagues, all together with your unions. Later that same day I was in another tram heading home and we got stuck just short of the main central tram interchange at Place Homme De Ferfor about fifteen minutes before we were passed by a group of students who had come out on strike in support of the campaign to protect current retirement benefits. In some other towns they went as far as setting cars on fire – what fun a day off and setting cars on fire – but when the Police took action against them they cried. The unions have brought the petrol refineries out on indefinate strike and there was some panic buying of fuel last weekend and there have been requests for people not to panic buy fuel this weekend. It has now affected Paris largest international airport which is in danger of running out of fuel.
Coming from a country where the unions were emasculated by Margaret Thatcher it is good to see people fighting back against what they see as injustice from their government but I just wonder if a country with a massive structural deficit and the best welfare in Europe can afford to continue to pay for them? I’ll fininsh with the headline from the leaflet I was given at the demonstration above:
LE PEUPLE DANS LA RUE!
LE GOUVERNMENT A LA RUE!
UPDATE: This was written yesterday and should have been published then but for some reason was not.