when teenagers in a town a few kilometres down the road are tear-gassed by the police after throwing bricks at the windows of their schools and Molotov cocktails at cars, it becomes hard to ignore.
I didn’t want to write about the strikes because they happen so often in
But as the effects of the current strike encroach ever-further on my back yard (and as people at home keep asking me about it!), I’ve been motivated to do a little bit of research (aka ask some friends) about what it’s really about. This is what I’ve found out so far:
The main feature of the reforms is that the minimum retirement age in
The people who go on to further education therefore feel that they are being penalised.
The people who started work at 16 are complaining that they already work more years than anybody else and are now being told to work even longer.
These people are also cross because pensions in
The people who get promoted to superior positions with higher salaries are cross because “final salary” used to mean the average of the final ten years but this is being extended to the last twenty years.
None of this, as you may have noticed, is actually caused by the raising of the retirement age. All of these “injustices” were present in the system already.
For comparison, in the
Now, I can understand why if I were approaching retirement age, had just learned that I would have to work for an extra two years and was extremely selfish, I might feel like striking against the French government’s reforms. Admittedly in a country with the best healthcare and one of the longest life expectancies in the world, these baby-boomers are quite clearly throwing the toys out of their luxury pram, but they got their thrills in ’68 and have apparently never experienced anything quite so memorable since, so at least their actions kind of make sense.
What I really don’t understand, though, is the school pupils who are destroying the fabric of society that is there to support them in the name of opposing reforms which, if successfully blocked, will allow the toy-throwers an endless life of ease, while the young pay ever-higher contributions in ever-lower paid jobs to support them. The fact that this is in any way seen as reasonable behaviour is a sign of a society that has become so blinded by its destructive way of operating that it doesn’t realise that, by opposing its government and vandalising its infrastructure, is actually destroying itself.
Anyway, having got that out of my system, I think I’ll go off and appreciate an evening of cuisine, conversation and culture in a country that is otherwise a very nice place to live in!