Monday, September 06, 2010

62 Years and Out?

Mais non, says a majority of France.

A nationwide strike is expected in France on Tuesday as the French national assembly begins to discuss a bill aimed at reforming the country's pension system.

The disruptions start Monday evening, when the rail workers will close down much of the train system; unions expect massive disruption and huge demonstrations amid anger that French workers will now have to work until 62 from the current limit of 60 ...

A BVA survey for French TV channel M6 shows 63 percent of French people back the strikes ...

The French have gotten used to a certain lifestyle: Full health care. Base thirty-five hour workweeks*. Six weeks of paid vacation. Retirement between 55 and 60.

Who am I to tell them they're wrong? (Any more than Europeans should tell our CEOs they've got to be paid the paltry sums French or German company chieftans earn.) Europeans have had a bigger, stronger safety net than us rugged individualists here in the states; now it looks as though alterations are coming.

I've got no idea how the "restructuring" will ultimately shake out, but it's good to keep these basic Laws of Life in mind:

1) Everything's arbitrary; everything's temporary.

2) You end up getting what you have the leverage to get. "Fair" and "Unfair", "Just" and "Unjust" are in the eye of the beholder.

I'm a believer in people voting and acting in their own economic self-interests, but many have other priorities. Everybody's entitled to march to the beat of their own bass drum, and generally do. Me, I've always been fond of Humphrey Bogart's axium in Casablanca:

"I'm the only cause I believe in."

Seems as though many French people side with Bogie.

* Corrected.


Anonymous said...

But when do they START working?

Anonymous said...

Hahaaaaa... When do they start working?...
Well, first of all, they don't have 4 days of work, they have at least 5.
35 hours of work are the minimum pay, and the rest is supposed to be consider OT or RTT ( not paid compensation leave ). A lot of companies are working on 40 hours ... with that system.
Guys, before making any kind of judgment, check your facts!

And for the record, yes, I am a proud Frenchman, living in Hong Kong, so I have a more distant and still understanding view on my " compatriotes".

Anonymous said...

it was a joke....but anyone who has travelled to France knows what I'm talking about!!

And I LOVE going to France!

And without them, America most likely wouldn't exist.

Anonymous said...

I was talking to a Frenchman just the other day about France, and one of his comments about the country was "...when are they not on strike?"

He says workers, especially the rail workers strike often, to the point where it becomes a nuisance to the daily lives of the French. My friend used to live in the Northern part of Paris, and one day the workers went on strike and the train came to a halt at a station in a bad area, and had to call for someone to pick him up because there was no way he was going to walk about that suburb alone.

The French are notorious for being slow as well, internet connections can take up to 2 months to connect for example. The easy lifestyle pace has it's good points and bad points.

When I worked in a Belgium, about half of the CG artists in the company were French, and they regularly took 2 hour lunches, and went home at 5:30pm. I do remember the CEO of the company noting how me and the other non-French foreigners typically worked more (or what I considered "standard") hours and expressed a desire to hire more foreigners.

What the French have to realise is that for all the perks they bestow on their people, someone has to pay for it. And with lifespans increasing, 60 years old is not what it was 20 years ago, so the extra money from pensions has to come from somewhere.

Steve Hulett said...

It's good to remember that Despicable Me, one of the major animated hits of the year, was produced in Paris.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
When I worked in a Belgium, about half of the CG artists in the company were French, and they regularly took 2 hour lunches, and went home at 5:30pm.

Sounds like several CG Leads at Disney when I worked there.....

Anonymous said...

My friend's wife is French and he goes there with his family annually. At least, he used to.

I remember talking to him and he told me that while he was there his toddler was hit with a massive fever. He got in the car to take her to he hospital because it became very scary very quickly. He got in his car and drove onto the freeway only to find that the truck drivers were on strike. Being on strike, they let their rigs sit on the highway idling, shutting down all transportation.

It was a reall eye opener for him that his daughter's life could be in jeopardy and he was prohibited from getting her medical attention because the truck drivers were going on strike.

Measure the perceived injustice they were revolting against with the injustice of your kid possibly dying and you have a clear perspective on the ridiculousness of labor in France.

He drove like a madman on surface streets and somehow found the hospital, but I think he may have sworn off going back after that.

Anonymous said...

Leverage in labor economics as far as I understand it today. You go to the mat for wage, benefits, and cost of living increases. If management bends, you settled for too little because they are making far more than you will ever know.

If management doesn't bend, they were on their way to bankruptcy long before you ever got to the table. The ensuing conflict pushes management over the edge, at which point they take cover in bankruptcy, wipe the slate clean, and start up with a new model, which among many other things, also includes much cheaper labor.

Anonymous said...

If management doesn't bend, they were on their way to bankruptcy long before you ever got to the table.

That's the silliest thing I ever heard. So you mean to say that if Mr. Junior Animator demanded $200k and didn't get it, that's a sign of bankruptcy?

Sometimes people actually do ask for much more than they are worth...and management are free to call their bluff. That by no means they are on the edge of going under. I don't think you have ever been in the position of paying someone.

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot said...

The french are participating in something that americans seldom do. Democracy!!

Going to the polls every four years to choose between two parties that pretty much pander to the top 1% is not exactly a democracy.


Anonymous said...

I hope all people going to strike have their pirate hats ready.

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