In case you have not been following the news in France, let me update you. The workers are on strike. Excerpt from The Guardian (which happens to be my favorite newspaper):
More than one million French workers downed tools yesterday in the first general strike to hit a major industrialised nation since the start of the global financial crisis. Unions said more than two million public and private sector workers took to the streets across France to protest against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s handling of the economic crisis, saying too much had been done to bail out fat cats and banks, and not enough to protect jobs and help workers make ends meet.
I don’t know about you, but if I were afraid of losing my job, the last thing I would do is go on strike. Moreover, if I knew that my employer had the upper hand, I would be working twice as hard for the same amount of money. While I do agree that perhaps handing out money to the banks is not the most prudent or fair way of going about things, I would NOT go on strike. That’s like saying to my boss, “Go ahead, fire me now!”
I am generally on the side of working people. They’ve been screwed not just by their employers but by the people they’ve elected into public office. Everyone knows that, from the US to France to Germany to South Korea to Japan, the large public companies like Toyota, GM, France Telecom, Deutsche Bank, all these large (too big to fail) firms have massive lobbying power and they have the kind of access to politicians that someone working on an assembly line does not have. Not surprisingly, these politicians make policy that favors the large enterprises. But let’s face it. As long as we are living in this capitalist system that ties in Big Business to our politicians in a rather incestous way, we’re basically screwed, as working people.
So instead of striking, it’s time for a totally different strategy. I don’t know what that is, but it’s not the 1960s method of going on strike, shutting down public transport and manning the barricades. The French have been going on strike forever but what’s the result? Their companies have been outsourcing jobs to other countries, their social benefits although still high compared to the US have been going down steadily for years and there’s a sense that things are not getting better anytime soon. In other words, going on strike has not provided them with the results they want.