- CRITTER TALK
Airport staff, bus and train drivers, teachers, postal workers and armored truck drivers who stock cash machines will join refinery workers and others in a day of nationwide strikes against Mr Sarkozy’s plan to raise the retirement age. Fuel shortages will worsen as refinery strikes go into an eighth day, and the authorities will be alert for any escalation of sporadic violence on Monday in some cities, with small groups of troublemakers torching vehicles and scuffling with police.
The French are deeply unhappy with the way they have been governed, but their main grievance is about pension reform, which is seen as a cynical ploy to make ordinary people work more for inferior entitlements, while bailed-out bankers and the rich get tax rebates and continue to enjoy the high life. Over the past month, five national demonstrations have gathered together an estimated average of 3.5 million people per action day. The latest, on Saturday, was a big success and another is scheduled for today.
In France, strikes and demonstrations are seen as a civilized and effective way to enact one’s citizenship. Students are expected to join marches from an early age, receiving by the same token a “political education”. France’s youth have always scared governments because of their radical potential. Student demonstrations of late have been invariably popular because people know that the young have been badly hit by unemployment over the past 30 years.
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