Thursday, 10 February 2011

Grève season is open!

I'm not actually sure grève season ever ended this year. It would be an understatement to say that much of French society is unhappy with the recent changes in France - both proposed and accepted.

My college French professor told us that striking was France's favorite passtime. The first time I came to France, I was told that the French only strike when the weather is nice. It seems true enough, but there's a reason for that. When the weather's nicest, you can affect the most people.

It's true that the winter's been particularly bad so is it a coincidence that the striking has picked up again now that it's no longer uncomfortable to be outside? Or maybe it's that there are local elections coming up in a couple months...

I still have trouble with the strikes at times, they get on my nerves, I have to use vacation time to watch my school-age daughter. But, the longer I stay here, the more I appreciate the freedom to strike. Striking in the US just isn't the same. Changing the current system - retirement, social security, the centralized education system, job security - touches the heart of most French people. All of these points are so engrained in French society (for most people I'll hasten to say) that any change becomes very personal.

Sometimes I laugh to myself (or outloud) like when they changed full retirement to 62. HAHAHAHA! But, as a full-fledged member of French society, I also appreciate the current social advantages which give my kids free education from the age of 3, subsidized housing, subsidized child-care for children under 3, full maternity leave for a couple months (better than the US for sure!), parental leave, low cost healthcare, 5 weeks plus of leave per year...The bottom line is, all of these things contribute to a happier and healthier society as a whole. And believe it or not, France is a very productive country . Personally, it doesn't feel like a bastion of productivity, but I guess they manage to get things done. Somehow.

1 comment:

Mil said...

But I thought there was that minimum service rule and the schools had to accept your kids on strike days? Unless there's no canteen? I'm too poor to choose private schools for now anyway, so perhaps this will be my fate, too.

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