Strikes In France

“It’s the season of…strikes!” writes France Correspondent Lucy Culpepper.

“You may have read about all the pensions’ reform protests and strikes that have been going in France. The reason? A proposed pension reform law that finally has been passed. This increases the legal retirement age from 60 to 62 by the year 2018 and from 65 to 67 for a full pension, regardless of contributions history.

“Different regions have been hit by the strikes that have plagued this country in different ways. Luckily for us here in the southwest, there has been little fuel restriction. Meantime, though, more than 4,500 petrol stations in France are without fuel. Strike action brought all local transport (buses) to a halt and has disrupted flights in and out of the region. As of this writing, our trash is being collected, unlike in many regions across France.

“Feelings among our French neighbors are mixed. They are worried about the effects the strikes are having on the economy. The finance ministry has estimated that the strikes have cost the French economy up to €3.2 billion. The petro-chemical industry (a major employer in this region) is losing €33 million a day, while Air France is losing €5 million a day.

“On the other hand, our French friends don’t like what the government is doing.

“Meantime nationals from other countries are wondering why France is so behind the times with its reforms. The UK is reviewing a law that currently makes it possible for employers to force retirement on its employees at the age of 65; in other words, many Brits want to work longer! C’est la vie.