Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Chérèque Driven Off

In a comment yesterday, Ron Tiersky mentioned François Chérèque's lucid assessment of the situation as it stood last night. I was tempted to reply at the time that of course Chérèque was merely repeating what had been his and the CFDT's position for some years now, namely, that the move to 40 years of cotisations for all is inevitable and should become the framework for all further negotiation of retirement system reform. The problem is that, clear-eyed as this judgment may be, not everyone accepts it. This was made crystal-clear today, as Chérèque was driven from the streets by the jeers and threats of striking civil servants, whom he attempted to join. He had to be escorted from the scene by union marshals. This is not a good sign for anyone who hopes to see an early end to the strikes. The intransigents are certainly in the minority even among union members, but they are vociferous, and the increasing chaos, mounting economic losses, and frayed nerves have not persuaded them that they cannot get the government to reverse course. For inexplicable reasons, negotiations with the railway workers will not begin until tomorrow. In the meantime, the situation is growing more explosive by the minute. Thus far there has been no real violence. That could change at any moment.

No comments: