Someone put together this little photo montage of life on public transport for the past week.
(If you don't speak French, here's a quick bit of vocab:
métro, boulot, dodo: metro, work, bed. French phrase for the daily grind.
en grève: on strike
cheminots: railway workers)
Nicely put together in my opinion, although I missed the significance of the "no defecating" sign at the end (which looks like it's from the London tube, by the way.)
I had the misfortune of going into Paris Monday night. An attempt to take the métro ended in a full fledged panic attack. Passengers were pushing, climbing over and screaming at each other, so I squirmed my way out, deciding that waiting in a café for a few hours as traffic settled down would be better than that. Later that night, when my husband came to pick me up by car, we drove home from rue de Rome- a trip that usually takes us 15 minutes, though Monday night, it was a one-hour ride. And the stress and anger in the passenger trains was even stronger among the motorists. I saw three near-incidents where pedestrians were almost plowed down by drivers focusing on not being bumped into by other cars and scooters inching up on them. People were getting out of their cars to scream at other motorists who jumped ahead of them at intersections.
From Lille to Nice, the strike is paralyzing France. Workers are losing wages from not getting to work. Construction sites stand still. Stores have lost customers. An angry café owner wondered on tv last night how France is supposed to compete with other countries economically if they continue having strikes that hit the French wallet. Even the SNCF announced it loses 50 million euros for each day the strike continues.
And if transportation wasn't enough, it's spreading to other sectors. Teachers are on strike for their insufficient salaries. Airport controllers are on strike. Postal workers. Tax collectors- though their strike didn't upset folks so much. Neither did the electricians on strike who prostested by cutting power to the radars that monitor cars' speed on the highways.
Though this strike has lasted a week, in 1995, France saw one that lasted three weeks. Three weeks! I've heard it practically destroyed thousands of businesses. Maybe it's the threat of reliving that that put protesters on the street Sunday in a counter-strike. Thousands walked the streets of Paris, yelling "Cheminots, au boulot!" (Railway workers, back to work), "Grevistes, égoïstes!" (Strikers are selfish), and "Fillon, tiens bon!" (a cry to Prime Minister François Fillon to stick to his guns and not wimp out under the pressure). In France, you can say bad words on tv which is good news for stranded commuters being interviewed by journalists as they wait hours for a train to go home. They take full advantage of that. Negociations are going on today. And the Frenchies are holding their breath.