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Thursday, January 29, 2009

As strike begins, France braces for business as usual

A mass one-day strike by public and private sector workers in France is set to make no visible difference to transport, hospital and education services.

Hundreds of thousands of workers are expected to take to the streets to demand something or other instead of sitting smoking Gitanes at their desk, falling asleep under a tree, or setting fire to sheep.

Three-quarters of French people and all the main trade unions are planning to take part in what the press are calling "A Normal Thursday". Air France flights will continue to be late, and British passengers will be looked at as if they are sloppy, worm ridden turds, while French travellers are greeted like long lost friends.

The protesters are demonstrating against President Sarkozy's plans to make people work 36 hours a week and reduce their holiday entitlement from 38 hours a week to 37. The President has vowed to personally drive trains, sell cheese, and leer at foreign tourists in order to help meet the shortfall of staff in key industries.

French Finance Minister Eric Woerth condemned the strike organisers, accusing them of damaging France's illusion of a functioning economy during a time of global uncertainty.

"There are other ways to make oneself heard than striking," he said. "If you work in a bar, you can just ignore customers and make jokes about them with your friends. If you drive a taxi, you can go round the houses and charge tourists double. And if you are a factory worker, you can sit around a wooden table drinking wine, eating bread and playing cards, instead of actually manufacturing something we can sell."

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