29 January 2009

Un enfant gâté?

I guess I should have knocked on wood after that last post.

Paris is in plein [full] grève aujourd’hui [today]. Taking action against the current economic climate and various Sarkozy administration movements toward privatization (particularly of the post), tens of thousands of workers in diverse sectors are taking part in a national day of grève [strike]. The RATP had warned against extensive perturbation [disruption] of a number of metro lines – in actuality, the Metro seemed to be running quite smoothly today – and Post Offices and other such establishments were closed across the country. An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 individuals were expected to participate in a demonstration from the Bastille to the Opèra.

Is it the spirit of social movement in action or the obnoxious cries of “un enfant gâté” [a spoiled child]?

The latter is how my host mom characterizes the Parisian penchant for striking – and it is particularly Parisian, she notes. France’s workers have been spoiled and they have a tendency to throw tantrums in the form of grèves [strikes] until they get their way, she argues. What’s more, she contends it’s only those who have secure enough jobs who can even strike in the first place, while empathizing with the small business owners who are equally struggling. Clearly not all Parisians share this view on the grève, but it’s an interesting perspective.

In a completely unrelated grève, the Université of Paris VII is protesting poor wages and working conditions. The movement is somewhat hit-or-miss and each U.F.R. [department] has the right to choose whether or not they will strike. At present, my department (Lettres et cinéma) is on strike through Tuesday at which point they will vote again on whether or not to prolong the movement. If this strike lasts, I will have to find replacements for my two classes at the university which would certainly be dommage [a pity] because I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience with Paris VII and have picked some intriguing courses for the semester.

Alors, on verra…

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