French commuters won’t back up strike

Marketplace Staff Nov 19, 2007


Scott Jagow: If you’re commute is a little rough this morning, just take a moment and think of Paris. Traffic was backed up for 150 miles around the city today because of this transit strike. Rail workers have been off the job for six days now. They’re protesting changes to their pension system.

President Sarkozy says the special retirement benefits are a privilege that France can’t afford right now. And the French people are starting to turn on the strikers. John Laurenson reports from the gridlock.

John Laurenson: Ten thousand people marched in Paris yesterday chanting “Stop the Strike” and “Let Us Work.” Commuters are exasperated by almost a week of transport gridlock, which French railways says has already cost them $150 million. Unions agreed to begin negotiations Wednesday.

The number of strikers has fallen by almost half since the strike began, but the unions believe their movement could snowball this week. Civil servants worried about job cuts will go on strike tomorrow.

Strikers are not winning the public sympathy that played such a crucial role the last time a government tried reforming the French economy a little over a decade ago. An opinion poll out today shows support for reform has increased, and support for the strike has decreased over the past week.

In Paris, I’m John Laurenson for Marketplace.

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