Thursday, November 15, 2007

Last call for the retirement train

I know you must be a little fed up with demonstration photos, but, well, this is what's happening in Paris at the moment. Like last month (I was on vacation, so I could not witness it) the public transportation workers went on strike and demonstrated near Montparnasse (where I took this photo) to protest the elimination of special rules that allow them to retire earlier than the vast majority of the French. In 1995 the same kind of reform triggered a complete shut down of the country for a month and the government had to give in. This time though, it is very unlikely that the outcome will be the same.


  1. I use to think that strikes never bothered the French...little did I know!

  2. I was told there will be more strikes in the future and they will consist of blackouts. Does anyone know what these are and when they will occur?

  3. It's nice to see the "vast majority" sticking up for itself, in this case by not supporting the strike. Could this be a first?

  4. Well, I certainly hope some of the lines run, because preventing everybody else from getting to work (and in the Winter, too!) really s..cks! There it is, the not-so-romantic side of Paris ...

  5. A transit strike in Paris is a horror! If you're a tourist or don't have to work and you have strong legs you can walk[as long as the weather isn't too unfriendly]and stop for coffee every so often...or some such distraction.

    As much as I would love to retire at 55 with a great pension the chance of that happening in the US is absolutely nil!! I am sure these strikers are not endearing themselves to other workers who need to continue their daily routine! Can you say "backlash" en Francais???

  6. With nearly 900,000 members, this must be a very strong union.
    If Sarkozy loses this battle, his reformist reputation will be destroyed.
    If he wins, he will be lauded as the President who had the strength to overcome the unions.
    Who else in France can retire at 50, on a full and massive pension?
    Certainly not journalists, bloggers and the rest of us !!
    Thank you for showing us this shot.
    It is hard to visualize these events dans la terre toute à l'inverse.

  7. To retire at 50 with a heavy pension? Mon Dieu! BTW...what's the average work week in France? Yes, I'm jealous as I think of my crappy 40 plus hour work week and my 80/20 crappy health insurance plan. Une cafe s'il vous plait!

  8. Oh boy... all those strikes must be really stressful, which would be why they need to be able to retire before everybody else, right?

  9. Well, the conversations in the office are much more animated this time against the strikes. I think people are getting fed up.

    I found this site called Stop La Grève that says that 79% of internet surfers are ready to protest against the strikes. It's about time!

  10. No surprise, the less one knows, the more one talks. The Chinese wiseman says it better.
    I don' want to quarrel on photoblog but try to learn something about the French social and cultural history. If I must choose between the wealthy arrogant previous mayor of the wealthiest suburb of Paris who likes to show how much he loves money and the shadow workers he tries to humiliate I make easily my mind.
    Listen to Serge Gainsbourg "Le poinçonneur des Lilas" may be you'll catch something.
    The link of the video is on

  11. I agree with you, Michael. It is about time !! Even it is quite easier for me to come work now since "vélib" exists in Paris ! But still, today it is cold and windy - but sunny ...ouf ;)

    At the moment, I'm feeling like having a little nap would be nice, but would not be really "tasted" from my company. Stop la Grève ?!

    Thanks Tomate for your comment yesterday about 'Art de vivre'. I really don't know how to translate it in american/english !

  12. Just to let you know. Here almost everybody is at the office, like every day and we do have other things to deal with better than to discuss about the strike.
    So may be it's a bigger deal on tyhe net than in real life or just may just another exampl of our national sport : dispising our fellow nationals.

  13. Ahh GG...I've been wondering where you've been during this discussion. ;-)

  14. All those privileges... many more people have much more difficult working conditions than the SNCF. Where is the minimum service? Can't people realise that they'll all be kucky if in 20 years they can retire with a decent pension even when they'll be 65?
    NB I'll be in paris this week end and will "enjoy" the strikes!

  15. Hmmm. Whether or not you or I can retire at any age is an interesting discussion. I notice a theme of complaining in many comments. How French! (Aren't I nasty? Move over GG!) Ask yourself: if you had the political power, would you push for a contract that provides early retirement? Of course you would, so who's better than anyone else? A contract is a contract, and must be fulfilled. If a contract is expiring, of course it is time to consider negotiating the terms. Each side will try to make the other look evil. It's human nature to grab for the most, and it's human nature to say I'm right and you are wrong.

    As I learned from the PDP language lesson: beu de geu deu. Pfft. (Did I raise my eyebrows properly?)

  16. Oh...I share the laments about the rat race. That's why I'm nasty, I guess. Where's my lottery ticket...did I win?

  17. Be careful riding your scooter, Eric. I suspect there are more cars, scooters, velibs, roller blades even, on the streets at this time??? Sans doute un cauchemar pous tous.

  18. In the days of Mitterand, I believe that France's national debt was 20% of GDP. It is now 67%.
    France is living on debt; - borrowed money.
    This is to pay these massive pensions etc.
    The next generation of young people will live in a totally different (and nearly bankrupt) world.
    One day it will be a priveledge to have a job, not a right, and the working week may be longer.
    Sarkozy must finish the job !

  19. OK, I don't particularly care for Sarko myself, but I don't know if this is a fair demand on the part of the strikers.

    A commenter wrote on the previous PDP post about the same strike that these guys have more stressful jobs than pencil pushers and deserve their "early" retirement. Hmm... I don't know about that. Tell me that an air traffic controller doesn't have a stressful job, or a network administrator, or a nurse, or a pre-school teacher, or ... you know, you name it, pretty much almost every job you can think of is really stressful, these days, only because they get us to do what 2 or 3 people would have done 20 years ago. 40 hour-work week? Yeah, right. Come on, now. Why should these people fare better than the others, and maybe even at the expense of others.... because who is going to fund their "early" retirement?

    As to the Poinçonneur des Lilas, puuullleeeze, haven't seen one of those in Paris in next to almost 2 generations, now come on!!

    (yeah, I don't particularly want to quarrel with anyone either but if we don't feel free to express our differences of opinons, what's the point of commenting?)

  20. That is precisely the question: how can you judge how hard and stressful a job is? If you ask anyone they will tell you: "my job is much more stressing than the one of my neighbor !"

    The bottom line is, however, than we do not have enough money anymore to keep up with your social benefits (and that includes, health, education, unemployment...).

    Like M. Benaut said, we borrow money (3% of our GDP) every year to keep up with our expenses and it cannot go on for ever, even though it's not pleasant to stop spending money!