Friday, December 26, 2008

Come Again?

The New York Times seems not to have gotten over its Sarkolatry. Today it ran a more or less reasonable article describing the secular decline of French unions and the weak position in which the unions find themselves at auto companies hard-hit by the crisis. Fair enough, but what's news about this? one wondered in reading. French unions have been in decline for decades, and auto unions haven't been faring well anywhere.

But somewhere around graf 15 we get this: "But since Mr. Sarkozy took office last year, unions have consistently failed to muster a critical mass on the street." Ah, right. Tally another victory for super-Sarko. Except that the real story has already been told earlier in the piece: “Striking is hardly a threat when management doesn’t want you to work,” Bruno Lemerle, the head of the CGT at Sochaux, said gloomily. “It’s difficult to imagine a 1930s-style mobilization today.” And:

On the deserted Sochaux factory floor one recent afternoon, Nadège Taesch explained why she had not joined a union and would not support protests. “This crisis is frightening, and I don’t see how the unions can change that,” said Ms. Taesch, 32, as she pulled a light-blue plastic cover over one of hundreds of half-finished Peugeot models stretching along the motionless two-story assembly line.

“I’m not scared of management,” she said. “I’m scared of how bad the economy will be in 2009.”


Perhaps there was tension between the reporters, who seem to have gotten the story from the horse's mouth, and the editors, who thought it ought to say something awestruck about Sarkozy. Though any notion of presidential superpowers is dispelled by the intervening paragraphs about government retreats in the face of (really quite mild) student protests.

EDF Put on Notice

The EU's competition authority is looking in to EDF's long-term contracts with large companies, which it believes may reflect anti-competitive monopoly pricing.