Solving problems in France
Posted by aogSaturday, 24 May 2003 at 20:00 TrackBack Ping URL
Friday's Wall Street Journal has an article about a counter protestor in France. Benoite Taffin is fed up with the frequent, crippling strikes in France and particularly Paris and has been organizing protests against the strikers. She's bucking the current because according to recent polls, a slim majority (54%) back the strikers against the government. The strikers are protesting making public sector workers have the same pensions as private sector workers which would represent a reduction in their current pension plans. But apparently the French people believe that having to work with Enarchs is sufficiently unpleasant to justify better pensions.

To illustrate the battle facing Taffin, she organized a call in to French radio stations the day of the transport workers strike. It was successful enough that the radio station "Europe 1" responded with the threat of a lawsuit against Taffin's organization on the basis that the organization interferred with the work at Europe 1. The WSJ claims irony, but I suspect that, being public sector, the radio station employees don't need to depend on public transport and so weren't much affected by it.

There doesn't seem to be all that much hope for a turn around if, despite all of the disruption and the mildness of the demands, people like Taffin are an ignorable minority. (Taffin, by the way, is a big fan of the Iron Lady, Lady Margaret Thatcher). When Reagan crushed the air traffic controllers and Thatcher broke British unions there wasn't that much public support for their targets. But French unions still enjoy broad public support which means that if the current French leadership's brains could contain the thought of real reform they would still be unable to act. These strikes simply underscore that point. At least we'll get to skim off most of the redeemables before the country goes completely under.