The British media keep very quiet about industrial action - unless it happens abroad. You only usually read about strikes over here if it can't be avoided, or if it gives the media an opportunity to bash the workers. Over many years, the British press has produced hectares of print telling us how innocent little old ladies have suffered at the hands of striking dustmen and tube workers. The workers are always presented as brutal and callous, lazy and overpaid, and worst still either dangerous subversives, or under the control of sinister militants.
So its good to hear that French workers are fighting back against poor wages and conditions - Sarkozy struggles to contain worker unrest - Guardian 21/02/08 - and are giving the French President a hard time.
Apparently ice cream workers and L'Oreal staff, not noted for their militancy, have been taking industrial action and holding their managers hostage! Thank goodness the French still have the bottle to take on the bosses - which is why they are reviled by the rich and neo-conservatives the world over. More power to their elbow!
Part of the reason the these French workers are revolting is that they have begun to realise what un petit merde Sarkozy is. How could anyone who modeled himself on Tony Blair possibly be anything other than a man of straw? So far Sarkozy has achieved nothing, other than driving away his long suffering wife, awarding himself a 170% pay rise whilst shafting worker's livelihood and pensions, and marrying a rich bimbo. Now he thinks Blair should be president of Europe and you can hear the hollow laughter echoing round the continent.
But don't be completely fooled by the apparent passivity of British workers. The longer New Labour continue to make the rich richer and the poor poorer, the more that pressure for radical change will build. And its not only workers who are getting upset about Gordon 'let them eat cake' Brown's love of the rich. The middle classes are beginning to realise they have been shafted also.
So, watch this space, it will have to get worse here before it gets better but the days when ice cream workers and cosmetics staff hold their managers hostage may not be as far away as you think. In the meantime - Vive La France!