Faire la grève /gʀɛv/ feminine noun*: 1. to be on strike (the official translation), 2. to be French (my own translation)
La grève quickly becomes a common phenomenon once you’ve been in Paris for more than 1 month. You can see how often the French go on strike. Last week the whole country went on strike against the proposed retirement reforms. The government is threatening to increase the retirement age from the current 60 years to 62 years. 2 extra years of work while for the rest of the word retirement still stands at 65. Furthermore, they stopped over half of the traffic. In order to show the Man the French are serious, the Parisian transport system, RATP, stopped a huge number of metros and RERs making it difficult to go to most places. So what is there left to do…well join la grève [actually, technically what we joined is la manifestion – which are the demonstrations where people go out and have a big carnival and parade. la grève are the strikes – where people don’t go to work and disturb the functioning of everyday life]. And that is exactly what S and I decided to do (though I heard somewhere this is not allowed/illegal – so we didn’t join in the protest, merely just followed the people…from a “distance”).
It all starts from République to Bastille and ends in Nation. We caught the human train from la Bastille, appropriate considering the significance of the site played during the French Revolution. In fact, most demonstrations from the left (French politics) all follow this very traditional route.
That’s S showing her passion for the injustice against old people, who refuse to retire 3 years before all other old people in developed nations. Well, at least the Frenchman behind her looks impressed by her enthusiasm. OMG I love the juxtaposition and irony of this photo. Plus the creepy dude in the back with a surgeon mask and hat on.
Did I mention, a bunch of the protesters were young people my age? Either they really care about retirement, or they’re just getting out of school/work. Don’t blame them, the grève experience is a lot of fun. People are dancing and singing down the street like a big parade. It was a great time.
While people protest for their rights, businesses gotta be making money. That’s just life. Plus, a good protest makes the people hungry.
As if the whole experience wasn’t enough, the highlight of my day…seeing this picture. It’s a bunch of kids, and adults who should know better, with a sign saying “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité“. This is the official French motto, meaning Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. But the best part, it’s a bunch of kids protesting at a retirement demonstration in front of a statue of a woman who represents Liberty? with a red and yellow flag that looks like the former Soviet Union’s flag with the hammer and sickle.
Needless to say, I was laughing the whole way home.
There’s is another grève predicted for next Thursday. Again. That’s the 2nd in 3 weeks. Makes sense, La Grève in France is like a bloody carnival & the French get the day off work. I would throw a protest too if it allowed me to get so much time off work every week so I could to have fun with the people, singing and dancing down the street. Retirement, salary, health care, French body odour and chaffing from overly tight jeans. Seriously, I’d protest it all.
* Thanks WordReference! You’re always there for me during last minute cram sessions before midterms!