By Jane Rosenstein
On Day 1 of the national strike in France on December 5, 2019, about 800,000 people demonstrated in the strikes in France of which there were 65,000 in Paris against new laws for retirement plans. No one knows how long the strike will last. Some say weeks.
In Paris, the police had to use tear gas to control some strikers who were setting fires in one demonstration.
The strikers are demonstrating against Macron’s proposal for retirement which is presented as a points system based on all the years a person worked versus the system now based on the last 6 months and the 25 highest yearly earnings. This system could raise the retirement age.
Several unions including transportation workers, teachers, government employees, air traffic controllers, and some firemen protested. The famous Yellow Jackets are joining the strike and will continue their usual demonstrations on Saturday as they have been doing for one year.
Only 2 lines of the metro which is the French subway is open. These two lines run automatically without conductors but are very very crowded.
Two other subway lines and some suburban trains are running for people to get to and from work a few hours in the morning and a few in the evening
Living in a neighborhood in central Paris, I noticed many cars on the road and people walking. Neighborhood businesses are open. It is good that supermarkets, bars, and restaurants are flourishing. We have plenty of food available and of course drinks but only at local places unless driving on crowded streets.
However, delivery services are difficult. It is also difficult to go to locations outside of local neighborhoods. Really the city is paralyzed.
Today, Day 2 the same subway lines are open. Few buses are running. People are finding ways to around including some scooters, bicycle rentals and carpooling.
The city itself is not accessible as we here rely on public transportation which is not available now so we use our legs for walking.
It has been freezing in Paris with the temperature dropping to 0 degrees Celsius in the night.
Most flights in and out of Paris have been canceled.
The tourist business is suffering as there is no way for tourists to come by air or train.
Theatres are suffering as people can not find transportation to get to plays.
We do not know if the Boat Show or other shows will take place. It is difficult to plan outings or even to get to work.
No one knows how long the strike will continue or how it will continue. Some say weeks like the national strike in 1995. Some strikers say they will protest until Christmas.
Jane Rosenstein is a U.S. citizen living in Paris, France. She is a professional translator/interpreter. She is the owner of The International Connection which does international marketing consultation including sales of wine, interpretation, and translation. She enjoys the cultural life that living in Paris offers and has talents in organizing events. She speaks English, French, and Spanish.
She has a B.S. degree in mathematics from University of Pittsburgh and an M.B.A. degree from Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA.
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We also had a resonance about an extremely unpopular measure – raising the retirement age. For women, 50, for men it was 55. And now everyone needs to live to 60-65. The government does not deny that this is a very difficult decision, but it was necessary to make it. All people were against it. But the indignation of the masses and the protests yielded nothing. They raised their age, but did not think about how it would be in practice, when after 50 years they do not want to hire us. Who needs me at age 60 and how do I live to retire? It seems that they want me to pay all my life contributions from my salary to the Pension Fund, and then at the age of 64 I died before I reached retirement. The Russian Pension Fund is the scam of the century…
The same goes for gasoline. Ordinary citizens of Russia do not care about the cost of a barrel of oil. Because the price of gas at our gas stations will always grow, and only up. Even if a barrel of oil costs $ 1.
We just do not like revolutions and do not have a culture of social protests. Therefore, sitting in the kitchen we scold the government, and in the morning, as if nothing had happened, we go to work.
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