Wednesday, 20 October 2010

France is a striking country

Demonstrations and strikes have been going on for some weeks now here in France and the action is becoming more sustained and violence has started breaking out. As I write this on Wednesday evening (yes I know I should be at choir practice), tomorrow will be another day of strikes and demos, it is also the day that Sarko will finalise the raising of the pension age from 60 to 62. Being British and a child of the late -50’s this is all pretty tame stuff to me. I remember the miners strikes, selective electricity blackouts sitting huddled round candles in the living room, bin strikes, strikes for higher pay, firemen strikes... the list of strikes was endless. May Day rallies were also attended. I particularly remember a shambling Michael Foot making a speech one year.
While working in Glasgow, I went on strike pretty much every year to protest about pay, cuts in services etc. I was once suspended indefinitely without pay for following union instructions and opening a library which the management had decreed should be shut.
There were about 8 or so of us suspended that day.
Yes it was a bit worrying, but after a bit, the Union decided to pay us the equivalent of our wages from a levy from union members.
It was all very interesting and we had to go to lots of meetings and pubs as part of it all.
Other council departments came out in support from time to time. In between meetings .I decorated the hall to pass the time. At least 2 of the others who had been suspended had break-downs and were never the same again.
The climax of it all came after a month at a meeting held in a theatre of library staff. This meeting changed my life and my outlook on my fellow workers.
The motion was that because management had not budged and had also refused to say that we would get our jobs back, that it should be further strike action to support those in suspension.
Then a weasely librarian, one T. J. stood up, and swayed the gathering with how he couldn’t afford to go on strike, he had children etc etc etc. If they went on strike they could all lose their jobs......
A vote was taken and the result was effectively that those of us who had been suspended would not be supported and no further strike action would be taken. So we were royally shafted.
Fair enough you might think, democracy and all that, however I later learned that T.J. also sold double glazing on the side and was sending his kids to a posh boarding school. I had barely spoken to the man before, but I never spoke to, or acknowledged his presence again.
Fortunately, shortly afterwards, management did give us our jobs back, but, as I said earlier, several of the suspendees were left with lasting mental and emotional problems.
It remains to be seen if the strike will continue into next week and the Toussaint holidays and even beyond.
My only comments on events are:
It is time that the EU governments did something about those robbing bastard bankers
Members of Parliament should live in their constitiencies and pay their taxes in the country that employs them. Just like the electorate that they claim to represent have to do.

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