dimanche, octobre 21, 2007

Strike three and maybe more days to come

The general transport strike started on thursday. Since it was announced a few days earlier, people organised themselves for alternate transport. Some took a day off to avoid the traffic mess.

On thursday, things were quite okay. There was no long queue at the train stations and metro stations. There was no major traffic jams. People used bicycles, car pool or walked. I walked to work on thursday. It was 3 km away and it took me 35 mins. After work, my colleague sent me home on his scooter. That was peaceful thursday.

However, the union decided to prolong the strike as their demands were not met. On friday, Paris was a mess. People could not take another day off. There were crowds waiting for metro and trains. Mostly 1 out of 3 trains or metro were functionning. RER A and RER B were totally down. I drove to work on friday as I had to visit our new apartment after work. What a bad day to do that. Driving to work was okay. The return trip from my new apartment to home took me more than 1 hour. Everyone was breaking traffic rules. Traffic was really slow and cars just cut lanes and driving on the road shoulders. The usual journey would take me 30mins.

Seb had it no easier as well. He had to travel to Belgium on wed evening instead of thursday since there was no guarante that TGV would work on thrusday. When he was returning on friday, his train was cancelled and he had to take the one before. That was still not too bad. At Gare du Nord, the queue for taxi was so long that he decided to take a bus until Gare Pont Cardinet and then took a train back to Becon des Bruyères, our station. Long story short cos' there were other bothering details. In brief, he reached home late.

And yesterday, the strike continued. :( Seb left for Boston in the morning and I had an appointment at our new apartment. My kind renovation contractor sent me to the new apartment and I discussed about the remaining works to be done. After that, he left me and I was stranded. In the internet, the transport website updated about the situation and RER D was supposed to be working. At the train station, I waited patiently until someone told me that she had been waiting since 45 minutes. We both gave up waiting and tried to find an alternative. In the end, I took three buses to reach home and that took me 2 hours in total.

Today, I stayed at home. There were only one train every two hours to go Paris. Usually, there were four each hour. I chose to pack the boxes and prepare for our house moving.

I have been too busy to go into the details of the strike. But it seems that railway workers retirement age is at 55. The government had been trying to make them work longer. The government reasoned that this retirement plan was created long ago during the time of steam trains when it was a hard and dangerous work. Now, train drivers had an easier job and should work longer. As usual, no one can touch this group of workers. The union replied that their jobs were not easy. Their responbilities were great, they worked on irregular hours and their workloads were heavy.

I will keep a watch out on the news this evening. I guess there is a high chance that I would have to walk to work tomorrow. Do I mind the strike? It is a mix feeling. I am frustrated when I was in the traffic jam. But it was my fault due to my lousy organisation. I am glad that people can manifest and go on strike. Freedom to the people! Something that we will never experience in Singapore.

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