Thursday, 21 October 2010

France on strike

After ten days criss-crossing France by train, I am astonished how normally everything seems to function. The high-speed trains are less frequent, and each day an ad hoc timetable appears, but I have been able to travel each time I wanted to. The worst problem was crossing Lyon as all the main roads were blocked by demos, but the metro was running normally, as it was in Paris.

The thing that most struck me, coming from England, was how powerful the CGT is. It is something like what the British TGWU was thirty years ago - a huge general-purpose union, capable of bringing tens of thousands of people on to the streets. The language is very class-ridden, workers versus bosses...

The other thing, which alas is not as striking as it would have been thirty years ago, is the swarms of police on the streets. Britain has now caught up with France and perhaps overtaken it in this respect. The French police seemed for the most part to be behaving very amiably towards the public. No doubt sooner or later somebody will get killed or injured, but so far it all seems to have been rather laid back.

No comments:

Post a Comment