Thursday, October 18, 2007

On Strike!

Aaaah, the good old French traditions! Today - Oct 18 - is a "black Thursday" as they call it because almost all public transports (trains, Metro, buses) will be on strike - in Paris only one Metro line (out of 14) will work. The reason for this strike? A dispute over pension schemes: public transport workers have to work less long than the rest of the French before they are entitled to draw a full pension. The Government says it's unfair, but they disagree... Last time a Government tried to change this (1995), the strike lasted more than one month and the Prime Minister had to withdraw the law. This time, I think the outcome will be different.


  1. Oh, shoot I lost my whole comment. OK here we go again.

    So, does anybody know what RATP stand for? here...


    There is another one for SCNF but I forgot it now.

    Hey, is this Gare de Lyon? I hope you stopped at the Blue Moon to look at the ceiling in there. It's an old brasserie upstairs with impressive turn of the century (?) art work on the ceiling. Makes you feel like you stepped into a movie set.

    By the way, I'm with the French governement on that one. There is absolutely no reason why this particular group of people should retire earlier than the rest of the population. Doesn't the rest of the population work just as hard? Not fair!!!

  2. Mille excuses, I meant Le Train Bleu (here is a little picture)

    and here is their official site:

    quite a sight! :)

    (hopefully Blogger won't eat my comment this time)

  3. Maybe being a transit worker is more stressful and even more dangerous than being a pencil pusher.

    By the way, which metro line was in service and why?

  4. Oh dear, will this strike last ONE MONTH again? I'm headed for Paris soon! Goodness...

    The Strange Republic

  5. LOL Tomate! Are you still on vacation Eric, so you can avoid the strike? Hope so!

  6. Walking is great exercise...and there's always Velib. Though for your sake and other Parisians, I hope the strike doesn't last longer than it takes Dubya to put his pied in his bouche.

  7. uuuh, it's not that simple. The working years counting for the evaluation of the pension are not calculated the same way in the public and in the private industry. If you take two persons that have the same salary, one working in the private and the other one working for public transports, and if they both have to work 40 years in theory(or more)to draw a full pension, the person working for public transports will have to work longer to have the same pension in the end, simply because a year worked in the private is not considered the same as a year worked in the public. I won't go into the details because it's very complicated but to make it simple : you can't compare the way a pension is evaluated in the public and in the private therefor you can't just say that people work less in the public transports. And that is exactly what the french government is doing right now in order to have the population against these workers. And they're doing that well! By the way, people working for the public transports are not the only ones concerned. The deputes, for example, also only have to work 37.5 years but nothing will change for them...

  8. good luck to all French people ! I really hope that the governement will not withdraw this law as this is completely fair. There are job far more hard in the private sector and no one worries about them.


  9. I suppose it does seem unfair if everyone else has to work longer. Great shot i love the sign.

  10. Katie k : Only Line 14 is 100% in service today! Why? simply because it's fully automatised... so no driver on strike.

    All info on Paris metro traffic today on

    ... and by the way, sun is shining in Paris, and Velib' is pretty successful today ;-)

  11. Hope you are right, Eric. Same here in Menton. Nice photo - the red makes it so effective.

  12. Another reason to install more automated lines. My question is always about why the general French public puts up with the strikes. I mean it's 2007 - not the 1960's anymore. Hang in there Sarko, I think this time the public may be ready to move on.

    BTW, I don't discount the difficulty of being a driver underground all day, but everyone has to give for the entire society to improve.

  13. I'm still on vacation, so I don't have to suffer with the strikes.

    Off to Boston in a couple of hours ;)

  14. Ahhh yes. We experienced a couple of Paris strikes, once upon a time.

    And when you say, you think the outcome will be different this time... Interesting. I'm certainly not knowledgeable on this topic but... I think the government may be tougher, this time.

    I suppose I should see if you have already answered this query, previously in comments.


  15. OK, Mathilde, thanks, that helps! But still... it just doesn't seem right.

    Er... Velib might fine and dandy in the Spring or Summer but now it's getting pretty cold and it rains a lot in Paris that time of the year (having been splashed by cars many times while I was minding my own business on the sidewalk, I can only imagine how much fun it would be to be riding a bike in the rain with all the speeding cars)!

    Well, good luck anyway, people in France. There is no real good answer with these things, is there.

  16. Pensions!?! I ain't got "no stinking" pensions! (movie parody)....but....I DON'T "got no" pension!

  17. I hope it all works out soon.
    I am coming in 14 days. I guess I will have to do some more walking. Ohh la la. I would rather walk in Paris than anywhere else in the world. Thanks for the daily photo.

  18. Supid, lazy, spoiled public employee here, checking in. I heard about this on the news this morning. (Yes, public radio, that horrible bastion of commie pinko propaganda.) What struck me immediately is that, clearly, the issue is more complex than Sarko's people are describing it. (Thanks for some broader perspective, Mathilde.) In addition, it is common in the political realm to frame things as black or white, which in fact is lying, since it is purporting to give the whole story in a sound bite slogan, and it certainly is not the whole story. It is probable that there are some excesses in both directions that can be compromised to reach a reasonable solution. However, that is not the way these days, as we know in the U.S. with Howdy Doody at the wheel. I think transit drivers have a really crappy job, since they put up with a lot of a_____es every day. I couldn't do that job, and I put up with a good share of sphincters in my job.

  19. And, Tomate, merci beaucoups for the tip on Le Train Bleu. It looks lovely! (I'm a fool for Beax Arts.) We came into Gare de Lyon this year, but I didn't know about this restaurant. Definitely worth a walk up stairs to see it. Next time!

  20. I love Le Train Bleu!! tomate..remind me to tell you a very funny story about Le Train Bleu sometime[you know me and those stories..LOL!!] is a great place.

    I think Eric planned his vacance to avoid this strike..Non???

    In the USA, they want you to work to 69 years of age, and they still give you hardly anything. It won't be long before we are a nation of homeless street people when all the "Baby Boomers" can no longer work! Really, something has to be done, people can't work until they die like a horse! Executives making 25 Million Dollars a year while lower income workers can barely get by and have no safety net...but this isn't France, the situation is different.

  21. It was so hard to go home!!
    And I'm not talking about catching a velib'! Mission impossible.

    Eric, j'ai bien peur que la fin soit la même...Et un mois de grève, c'est un peu long...

  22. Tonton,

    Not 69. 65 is still retirement.

    But if you plan right, you can retire much younger. My dad retired at 57. But I didn't get that "planning ahead" gene.

  23. The strike of 1995 was quite fun when you didn't have to respect schedules (like me) but it was awful for most people, though everybody was more relax than usual. Strange...
    I totally agree with the conclusion of your message.

  24. almost never heard of public transport strikes in Singapore.

    only fare increases. urrghhh!

  25. Oh, you too. We had a strike of the engine drivers lately. Good's traffic and trains to far cities were not affected but local traffic. Fortunately there are still the trams here in Cologne.

  26. Love theway this photo glows, great shot. I think it looks like Gare St Lazare.