High-School Unions and X-Rated Protest Signs
Why do the French strike so much?
So today the French are striking, and they have it down to a fine art: It's all about inconvenience. Since the public sector is still very important in this country, the industries affected are very visible. In the summer of 2008, Sarkozy said "Now when there's a strike in France, nobody notices it," but you can be sure that everyone—all around the world—has noticed what's happening here.
In the past, unions preferred so-called "days of action," when strikes would take place at a very specific time. After two or three separate days of action had demonstrated the unions' strength, negotiations would begin. Today, unions still start that way, but they quickly evolve into "renewable strikes," where the protest schedule is much more unpredictable.
The French Senate should vote on the bill by Friday—or maybe next week. The unions, which met on Thursday afternoon, have already called for two more days of action: Oct. 28,a Thursday, and Nov. 6, a Saturday. That gives people a lot more time to think up dirty jokes about the first lady.
Photograph of student protesters by Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images.