Thursday, October 18, 2007

Maximizing Strike Effects

The SNCF (Socitété Nationale des Chemins de fer Français) are on strike again. Since I depend on the train to get to work, I missed a lot the feeling of immense frustration induced by these strikes. But this time they did their best at pissing off everybody, even if they usually score high at this. There are practically no TGVs today between Lyon and Paris and the all the regional trains between Lyon and St. Etienne, my working place, have been suppressed and replaced by a few buses. Fair enough for a general strike you might say, they assured the minimum service and I don't mind taking the bus if it's for a greater good - actually the greater good in this case is the reform of the pension system, scraping the "special regimes", exactly what the strikers are up against - if it's for one day, bus is OK. The first hit came when they announced that the 75 km bus ride from Lyon to St. Etienne will take 90 minutes while a normal ride takes between 40 and 60 minutes - I know this because I took the bus between the two cities two summers in a row. I remained calm and I said to myself that maybe they anticipated the delay caused by the traffic jam. Then the morning came and I took the bus. After 55 minutes we were at the gates of St. Etienne and the bus stop is 5 minutes away from the highway exit. Victory is MINE! Actually not, victory wasn't mine, the driver attacked the city center, spent an extra 30 minutes wandering around - only he knows why - and he finally made it in time : 87 minutes.

Ladies and gentlemen of the SNCF, when you go on strike, remember that it is your employer you're up against, the French government in this case, not your customers! Because pissing people off won't help your cause, next time everybody in our beloved - yet still too socialist - country will hate your guts and your popular support will be flushed down the toilet. I for one don't support your strike and hope that the minimum service law will pass, forcing you to keep some trains running during the strikes. And yes, you should start contributing to the pension system for the same period of time like anybody else.