Tuesday, September 7

On Strike

I think you can tell a lot by a country by the way they go on strike.  In London with the current 24+ hr tube strike, one in which the newspapers say has crippled the city, I've managed to go pretty much anywhere and everywhere.  People here don't seem to side with the strikers.  And, the worst offense yet:  they want pay increases while making upwards of 40000 pounds per year + overtime.  That's over $60,000 (48000 euro).  People are saying commit money to improving the service, not the waistlines (well, that last bit is me saying it).

In Italy a metro strike usually bears no consequence on the passengers; after waiting over 40 mins. for my bus the other day, and then finding the ticket windows closed at the train station after 13.30, I can tell you that a service disruption barely gets noticed.  But even in Italy, City officials keep the buses running -- although in Milan, strikers must guarantee service during rush hours - how civilized. But then you wonder, why bother striking at all?

In the USA, where they've never been very good at these things, everyone just goes home and watches Reality TV-- every episode until the season ends.  The infamous NYC transport strike of the 1970s went on for weeks on end, until women were donning tennis shoes to get to work - a fashion statement that never went out of style.  Perhaps the City should go on strike now to get their obesity rates reduced.  In the 1980s, after the air traffic controllers went on strike, President Reagan just fired the whole lot of them.  I waited about 18 months to fly again -- as I had a sneaking suspicion that the safety of millions of passengers was compromised, but hey - who was counting?

But my favorite is France, where they don't take anything from anyone.  They'll overturn those subway cars on their sides if they have to, and then sit on highways in order to make sure everything comes to a complete halt.  When Frenchmen strike, it always conjures up images of the Bastille.  In 2008, in what began as a fishermen's strike against oil prices ended up paralyzing nearly the entire country as truckers and taxis joined in, blocking roads and the Total oil company’s offices.  This week they've crippled the country due to the government's insistence on raising the retirement age. Let's hope Sarkozy doesn't capitulate (and then, let's hope Greece follows).

There's got to be a better way to make your statement -- maybe a Facebook protest instead?  A viral video? Or perhaps ousting the guy you who's making your life difficult by publishing photos with a prostitute? Of course, in Italy, it'd have to be a male one to get him to lose his cushy politico job...

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