SNCF on strike...

How nice it is to live and/or to travel in a ‘right-wing-socialist’ country!

France is a really surprising country to live in. Even if you don’t really live there anymore. And how mysterious and unbearable it has to be for foreigners and tourists!

Ever since November, France has been experiencing strike upon strike. Who is going on strike? Well, mainly the state employees.

It started with the museums. Which museums? Can’t tell!
Strikers are tricky. It’s just like a big game.

You want to go to the Louvre. Well, it’s closed. For how long? Nobody knows.
The Louvre reopens but two other museums go on strike. For how long? Guess what? Nobody knows.
Why are they going on strike? Nobody knows either. The reasons vary from one newspaper to another one. The unions keep mum.

Sometimes it is because people are retiring and not replaced. Sometimes it is because they feel they’re not getting enough money. Who is? Especially going through such a terrible financial crisis. Most of the time, it is because they are afraid they may loose outrageous benefits inherent to their civil servants’ status.

Strikes used to be very popular in France but this is changing a lot. People are getting tired... Those who are not civil servants, that is. Those who want to go to work and are terribly worried that missing one day of work is going to cost them their job in a stricken and restrictive work market notwithstanding the exhaustion of everyday life!

There is one fast subway line called RER A. Everyday, more than one million people use it to go to work and to school to Paris and back. If its employees go on strike, what happens? Just imagine.

When all means of public transportation quit working, the government does its best to defuse the crisis, which is to say: ‘Ok, you guys, sorry. We were wrong. So let’s go back to work, pleeeeeaaaaase!’

But nobody goes back to work. There is to be a show-off like: ‘We are really strong and united. You made a mistake playing with our benefits. Now we’ll show you!’

This is how at the end of this week, our train system was almost at a complete standstill even though the unions had negociated ‘successfully’ with the government and had won their way back to old regulations!

Why the end of the week? Quite obvious, my dear Watson.
Most people who work in Paris and other big cities do not live there permanently so they leave home to go to work on Monday morning and get back home on Thursday or Friday afternoon.

Let’s take one example: Brittany.
Lots of Bretons work in Paris and commute twice a week.

Well, the railway employees announced last week that they would go on strike starting on Thursday. All of a sudden, unions and government officials entered quickly into negociations. Things usually go very fast... when you get close to a week-end and/or holidays.

Two days later, all unions announced that they had reached a favorable agreement and the strike was over. The announcement was made on tv, radio, internet...

So people started to resume their life and journeys. They were going home on Friday night, as usual.

Hold on, hold on! We have unwavering civil servants in France. Their unions had agreed to go back to work but not the workers, at least some of them, enough of them to keep part of the country crippled. ‘Ah, ah, we’ll show them.’

Whom did they show their teeth to? The government officials? Oh no!

Hundreds of people, not to say thousands, were stranded all over France, just the way it happened at the Montparnasse station, trying to go back home. I know about Gare Montparnasse because we were there.

Our train was the only one to leave. We had reservations on it so we were lucky to have a seat... The train carried people standing up in every car, squashed like canned sardines since it was the only train to go to Northern Brittany from Paris. Trains going to Southern Brittany had stopped running once and for all. Too bad.

Lucky adventurous us. We got very late to Les Tertres since the TGV stopped at every station on the way. But we got home allright.

The Milky Way was very beautiful.

By the way, we still don’t know whether or not we’ll be able to go back to Paris on Monday night... since now we have ghost strikes.

*Good Night, and Good Luck*

1 comment:

Myrna said...

Oh dear. With that many people, it would be pandemonium if no one could get home. I hope that the situation gets resolved very soon.