France Through My Eyes : Striking People / 我眼中的法國 — 愛罷工的人們

Indeed, many Europeans are striking, as in strikingly beautiful.

Many French, however, are striking. As in not going to work to protest against their job and vacation conditions.

On my way to school today I saw an abnormally large amount of people at certain bus stops. Frank, the man who drives me to school, said that the strikes have been starting up again, beginning from today.

I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard people talking about their plans getting derailed because of rail strikes, or not being able to get to school because of bus strikes. Some hospitals even had nurse strikes and resulted in many patients unable to be treated at the first minute. When I was in Lyon during the vacation and planning on taking the train into the city the next day, I was warned to check online and make sure that I won’t get stuck in the city because of canceled trains. This weekend I will be going to Strasbourg for a quick afternoon visit with a friend, and he told me that rail strikes have been causing trouble for many commuters, and fortunately the train type we are going to take is the only type that won’t be affected.

As I remarked that French people seem to lance a lot of strikes, Frank agreed with me and replied that this might just become a French characteristic.

“These are French people. You see, we are never truly satisfied.”

I don’t know what their work conditions are like, so I cannot give my opinion on if I think they should be protesting or not. However, what I do know is that many of them claim that they do not have enough vacations. This surprises me though, because as a Taiwanese high schooler in France for a year of exchange, I find that they have tons of holidays. They have two weeks of vacation approximately every six to seven school weeks. They also have several days in a year where people don’t need to work or go to school. We call these days “fériés”, which in fact means holiday. These dates are mostly history and religion related. World Wars, Christianity… There is also Labor Day, which pays tribute to the working class, and it actually includes teachers, which is not the condition in Taiwan (Teachers have to work on Labor Day, so students can go to school, which I find to be extremely absurd). On days like these, all the shops and malls are closed and people can really get some rest.

At least, for students in France, I find the vacations to be sufficient. For the working class, there may be more things they want to change. That’s why there are strikes all year round.

今天早上上學的時候經過了好幾個人群異常多的公車站,開車載我上學的叔叔說大概是因為又有人在罷工了。

來到法國之後時不時聽到罷工的消息,影響了眾人。有些人的週末行程因為鐵道罷工而必須取消,有些人因為公車司機罷工而沒辦法上學上班,甚至有病人因為醫院的罷工而無法在第一時間接受治療。還記得放假期間在里昂近郊,打算隔天搭火車到市中心,被提醒要上網查詢罷工的時刻表還有波及範圍,小心不要被困在里昂市區了。這週末要和朋友一起去史特拉斯堡轉一圈,他和我說,我們很幸運,因為只有我們這週末要搭的火車型號 TER 不會被接下來的罷工行動影響到。

「法國人好像滿喜歡罷工的,」我對開車的叔叔說道。

「是啊,這快要變成法國人的特質了。妳看看,我們就是永遠都不感到滿足,總是去要求更多。」

我是不怎麼清楚法國人的工作環境與情況,所以我並沒有什麼權利去對於他們該不該罷工給予什麼意見。但我倒是有聽幾個人說那些罷工的人認為他們的假期不夠。這還滿令我驚訝的,畢竟身為一個來法國交換一年的台灣高中生,我覺得法國人放的假已經很多了。他們大約每六到七個禮拜就放兩週的假期,一年當中也有好幾天是不用上班上學的。這些「放假日」的日期都跟一些歷史或宗教信仰有關係,例如兩次世界大戰的停戰紀念日、復活節、勞工日等等(這裡的勞工有包括老師們,所以學生也不需要上學,和台灣非常不一樣)。在這些單獨放假的日子,所有的商店商場都不會營業,讓所有人都好好待在家休息一天。

以學生的角度來看我是認為他們的假期非常足夠。對勞工們來說,或許他們還有許多其他希望政府可以改變的制度,這就是為什麼在法國幾乎一整年都有不停的罷工。

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