Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Union Action Against Pension Reform Fizzles

Two unions, the CGT and the FO, had called for today to be a "day of action" against the government's proposed pension reforms, but the movement was "almost invisible." Why? In part because the reform is minimal (and therefore insufficient):

Cette réforme à minima a évité tout ce qui était susceptible de fâcher (et donc de mobiliser) la fonction publique et les entreprises publiques. La CGT et FO ont même salué comme une "avancée" ou un"progrès" la création d'un "compte pénibilité". Et les syndicats se gardent bien de demander le retrait du projet et visent essentiellement son amélioration.
But there is an even deeper reason for this failure: hopelessness. When large numbers of people turned out to protest the Fillon government's reforms, there was hope that someday they would elect a Socialist who would come up with a different plan. But a Socialist was elected and came up with ... a plan that effectively ratifies the Sarkozy-Fillon reform but adds a little window-dressing. So France limps on, but I suspect that the next elections will show a fairly substantial number of desertions from the Socialist party, if not to the Parti de Gauche or the Front National, then to the growing ranks of the abstainers. Hollande's presidency has been most effective at demobilization--not entirely by design, but a demobilized population suits Hollande's managerial style of governing just fine. A hot autumn might have forced a change in the government's approach, but the French are tired and resigned, employed workers are happy to have jobs and pensions that will be good enough for themselves (even minor changes have been postponed to 2035), while the unemployed do not turn out for union-inspired demos.