Thursday, April 12, 2007

France strikes no more


Let me take a guess. When you think of a country constantly on strike do you happen to think of France? I bet you do... And though, apparently(*), despite a common belief the French "strike rate" is - and has long time been - pretty "normal". I came across a very interesting study (in French) which shows that, over the last century, we have always been "behind" Italy, Spain, Greece, Canada... More surprisingly, the latest figures (1998 - 2004) show that countries we look up to (socially wise) like Denmark, Norway or Finland happen to go more often on strike than France!

(*) I said "apparently" because other studies show different results.

38 comments:

  1. The photo is nice. The idea of strikes is bad. During the war in Vietnam, my company was on strike. I was in engineering. When the strike was over I went back to work at lower wages.

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  2. What a great angle Eric. So much more interesting, you certainly have the eye.
    I AM surprised that you are not out ahead on the strikes, and that stats are pretty normal! When i was studying French at uni, it seemed most of the language lessons were centred around strikes, protests and the news programmes we had to listen to were peppered with them. That was in the mid nineties though. Maybe things have changed. It's quite rare here in the UK to strike but not unknown of course.
    Tell me, do you think, by results that you see, that the tactic of striking achieves results?

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  3. Well, it's hard to say whether striking will produce the expected result nowadays; now with global economy and all, jobs running off to India, China, etc. (ok, maybe not all of them but many) well, it's kind of a gamble, isn't it?

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  4. I think it's a gamble and don't see great results. Well, the results they get must be satisfying somehow, hence so many strikes.

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  5. Strikes, I've learned, can be fun. They usually mean we're able to wiggle out of responsible life. We can blame things on "the strike." Sorry, we say, if it weren't for the strike...

    Strikes, as much work as they take for those involved, enable us to be lazier.

    Speaking of lazy, I don't think this photo is spectacularly original. You can do far better. I'd have appreciated this sign more, for example, seeing it in context, getting a glimpse of its surroundings, perhaps with a gesture from a passerby. Just sayin'

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  6. Interesting, The Strikes in India are not 'fun'. they actually deprive individual's choice and is like taking thing's for granted!

    Here are few pictures of what we call 'Bandh' day....

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  7. It's strange for me living here to imagine that France is behind many countries. But looking at the data (at least in the 80's) even the UK was ahead of France with the number of strikes. Was this when the infamous miner's strike took place?

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  8. It's not the frequency of the strikes in France that made them famous as much as who go on strike and how. Teachers and students go on strike every year and most of the time it is seen (at least for the teenagers) as extra holydays. That way, strikes become a early habit of how to solve a problem or get what you want. Problem is also that nowadays, most of the country is getting fed up with the strikes and all the inconveniences coming from them as they do not appear to be that necessary or fair every time.

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  9. I think folks go on strike around here is because when they do, the government gives in and they get what they want.

    So why not?
    I would too. (If I could...)

    btw: This thursday and friday, there are planned strikes at both Orly and CDG.

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  10. Actually, I can't imagine that France is constantly on strike :) It very peacefull country. Maybe some people think so, because you talking a lot about it. And in many other countries it is just hidden! In Russian is a good expression: "Ne vynosi sor iz izbi" it means like "Don't share your problems with others"... So, many do that :)

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  11. It's not that we're more often on strike than ohters, it's just that we make it known ! Demonstrations and all kind of big crowds protesting, added with the strikes, must contribute to common idea that France is always on strike...

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  12. Eric, strikes in Australia are always organised by the union movement, naturally. Strikes for better pay and conditions are one thing, but to organise them at Christmas or during school holidays, as it is invariably done in Oz, is mean. Maximum inconvenience to the general public earns the unions no sympathy from anyone and the general public aren't the ones capable of addressing the issue anyway. This is done simply to earn more media attention than the issue upon which the stike was called, warranted. Consequently, strikes are very unpopular and even more so when they are purely political in nature, as they tend to be around election time. Perhaps that is also true in France - since your elections are now so close.

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  13. France a peaceful country ? you obviously never have been living in France... Try living in Marseilles or the north suburbs of Nice and Paris, even the cops do not dare going in some areas. France has the highest criminality rates in Europe along with Italy. Haven't you heard of the riots in 2005 ?

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  14. France appears to lead the world in strikes because of the full coverage done by the press. Here in the USA,we rarely hear of strikes in the countries that have so many of them.
    I like the composition of the photo, Eric. It makes an "uncluttered" point. You can't tell me it is not tough to come up with a fascinating topic and photo every day of the year.

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  15. Really, Earl, there is that much trouble? Every city the world over has bad areas and trouble spots of course, but you make it seem terrible. What is your experience?

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  16. My experience is that I've been living in Paris 6 months and have had my wallet stolen twice in the subway. I've been living in Nice and saw frequent fights in the old town, seen people throwing furnitures on cops from buildings and read after in the news paper that these incidents happen all the time. I wouldn't mention that the Russian mafia also owns the Riviera and people occasionally get shot at in the street which is always reported as well in the local papers. I was even offered a cop's gun from a 16 years old in Nice harbor for 50 francs at the time (a bit less than 10 euros).

    Marseilles, from every french people I've talked to, is famous for being especially unsafe too.

    Then you have all the riots going on every 3 or 4 years in the ghettos since the early nineties. Plus some suburbs in Strasbourg and Paris where cars and garbage bins are burnt on regular bases. The firemen also regularly go on strike because they get stoned when they go in the most violent suburbs.

    I could go on forever but any French living in a major city would confirm this. Hear me there, I ain't trying to paint a horrible portrait of France or say it's the most dangerous place in the world. Most of the country is very safe and peaceful and wonderful to visit. But some parts of it are famous for the criminality rates which go far beyond the average in Europe.

    Many tourists and foreigners are shocked to see so many poverty and so many aggressive people in the biggest cities and, especially the one I mentioned before (and even more in Paris) which contrasts a lot with the other safest areas.

    Of course lots of countries in the world and lots of big cities have these kind of problems too, but France and Italy suffer a lot from them compared to the UK, Canada, Australia or Scandinavian countries for example.

    Therefore my previous comment about France not being that peaceful. (sorry for the lenght of this one)

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  17. Very interesting, Earl. Thanks for that.

    Michael: Yes i think that would have been the miner's strike. Like i said, we don't have that many, not often, but when we do yes i agree, they're MASSIVE with quite substantial repurcussions. We are not free from strikes, by any means. How about in the USA, Michael?

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  18. Earl_mayer that´s quite impressive.

    Although I have to say I´m not a bit scared, you know. I live in Rio. Violent, very violent.
    So a riot on every 3 or 4 years? I can take that.

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  19. Tell us more about the things you face in Rio, Monica.

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  20. I think the rate of strikes and how violent they are depend on the class(political?)gap of countries... In France you have a large support for the far right, and also for the far left, which makes the strikes a little louder (if not more common). The strikes we have in Canada are less noticible. They usually take place over weekends, and don't effect people's lives as much (or at least my life!). Canada also has a wide social-gap, BUT(particularily in the major cities) the support for the "middle" is much higher than for either extreme. This usually means people in power are more willing to find a compromize. (Although there are still a lot of problems, they are solved a little faster)

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  21. Monica, I hope you didn't think I was putting France at the same level as Brazil or Argentina. I don't think you did but just in case :)

    Anyway, that would indeed be interesting to have an insight of life in Rio.

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  22. Lynn and Earl, I´m not going to write about it in details, it´s too complex. All I can say is although an official civil war hasn´t been declared here, that´s sort of what we face on a daily basis. The social problems have reached an absurd level some years ago, which lead to a huge drug traffic problem. So now there are daily confronts between the police and drug dealers. And the population - specially the people who live in the suburbs - is a victim in the middle of it. It has now practically reached all areas of the city, so we really don´t feel very safe.
    But honestly I don´t like to write much about it. And I think it would bore you.
    I was just pointing out that, although any kind of violence is terrible in any place in the world, I think European countries are an amusement park when compared to Rio!

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  23. BTW, Argentina is in a much much better situation than ours. It is very nice there.

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  24. For sure it is an amusement park compared to what you describe, and heaven compared to let say Irak. I understand you don't want to go into details about Rio although I'm sure it would be far from boring. I just wanted to pinpoint the difference between the pretty image of France people generally have and the less pretty reality.

    For Argentina I must say I don't know much apart from there was a huge economic crisis not so long ago with burst of violence in many places. Or at least that's what I saw on the news.

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  25. Goodness, Monica, thank you for sharing that and of course we understand that is all. I am amazed that you are still such a happy, funny, loving-life girl amidst all that trouble and let's face it, it must be a constant worry. Stay safe at all times!

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  26. Well, Monica, thank you for sharing. That is actually what we hear about Rio here, but it's probably not as bad as it sounds though.

    As for Paris, Frankly, I don't feel at risk wherever I go. Of course I tend to stick to "normal" places, I don't ride the metro at midnight... but still.

    Earl, are you sure that "France has the highest criminality rates in Europe along with Italy." I'll have to check that.
    One thing is sure though, since we're getting poorer and poorer every year it makes sense that the crime rate goes up.

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  27. Lynn and Eric, thanks. I know there are few places in the world nowadays without complex problems, of any kind. Anyway, if there´s some violence in France too (or Italy or wherever), I´m sure the wise thing to do is act as we´ve always been told: in big cities, stay alert. And enjoy as much as you can!
    That´s what I do Lynn!!! :-)

    Earl, it is correct, Argentina went through a big crisis a few years ago, but they´ve recovered now.

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  28. Not an hour ago I was approached by a 30 year old man...out of work, three kids, on his own. He had no shelter for his kids. He was just outside an agency that is supposed to help folks in his situation but he didn't meet their requirements. Is there any wonder why the crime rate is so high everywhere. Paris, London, New York, or Hicksville....Cost of living is too high for the average working man and woman. Don't forget the drug problem that is growing and growing. I wish some super intelligent being could find a plan, universally, to solve these problems.

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  29. Absolutely Johnny. Life is getting harder for sure. Since i divorced, i am a 'single mother' which makes things harder still when you are paying bills alone. There are many struggling much more than i of course, but i too wish there was a solution, a fair one. Here, politicians often imply there are too many single mothers. They mean unmarried mothers of which the number grows daily, it's true and younger and younger. Not the same as divorced but all receive the same title.
    I hope that father found a way.

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  30. I find that "study" hard to believe...

    Canada hasn't had a general strike in almost 100 years. Seems to me there are 100s of thousands of angry Français (and Françaises) parading down the Champs-Elysées on a regular basis en grève about something.

    Am I wrong?

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  31. I was wondering what you were about to say Johnny with your opening line...

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  32. It had occurred to me too, Michael! I think it had occurred to Johnny too, to hook us in. What a writer.

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  33. The strike by air traffic controllers was to protest a plan to move 30 jobs four years from now. That's just silly, and the impact such strikes have undermines France's reputation as a place to visit and to do business.

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  34. je n'ai pas le sentiment de vivre dans un pays toujours en grève, bien au contraire .... D'où vient cette idée bêbête et totalement clichée ? Le droit de grève est un droit fondamental à protéger, il est utilisé par les salariés français comme partout ailleurs ou les droits les plus élémentaires sont respectés, ni plus, ni moins, ça n'arrange personne de devoir se mettre en grève, même pas les grévistes, ce n'est pas un jeu, une fête joyeuse ou une excuse pour parader dans les rues, ce sont des journées de lutte non rémunérées dont les grévistes se passeraient bien volontier....

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  35. It's so funny that you post this picture and the comment on a day, when I was "stuck" in Germany, because air controllers in Paris were on strike, so my return flight to Paris was cancelled. While I always defend the French against unjustified stereotypes I couldn't help it yesterday to believe myself again, that strike in this country is just part of life... Greetings Ulla. Now back in the beautiful capital of a wonderful country !

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  36. Spring is such a lovely time of year and it's no wonder the worker's mind turns to strikes! "Enjoyed" an April transpot strike in Paris in 2003, which meant the walking quotient increased to about 20 kms a day!

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