Just like every developed country, and ourselves, the French have been revamping their social and economic systems to make sure that future long term growth is achieveable, and that they can pay off their accumulated debts.
Once such reform has been to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. Now most of us in this country would ask why they are even complaining. We have to work until we are at least 65, and that’s even going to go up in the future. The point the French are making is that when you’ve been used to something for so long, that works in your favour, you don’t want to give it up. And in protest of this, as well as other reforms, many millions of people have taken to the French streets in marches, oil and fuel depots have been both blocked and shut down, fuel lines to main Paris airports have been closed and now the students are having their say also. They are worried that as people work longer, there will be fewer jobs for them in the future.
As much as I can understand the upset and frustration of the French people, this is not the way they should be going about venting their anger. They have to realise that the world is now in a place where we simply cannot afford the lifestyles and economic policies of the past. We have a live a much greener lifestyle. Operate a much leaner economy which isn’t centred around borrowing, and that encourages growth without placing uneccessary burdons on public expenditure.
I can also give the same advice to the people of this country. On Wednesday we will find out how much the Government will be cutting and from which departments. The cuts will be deep, harsh, unpopular, but absolutely required to make sure the country is put back on a stable footing. If the Unions call for mass strikes and action, it could divide the population. Those in who work in the public sector and will retain their jobs should hopefully find themselves lucky to still be in employement. It will only serve to anger those who have been jobless for a while. We saw a simliar scenario when the airport staff went on strike over losing their already over-generous benefits. The majority of the population didn’t have much sympathy with them.
So, let’s not do what the French are doing. Let’s not put the country under any more pressure by causing petrol shortages. Let’s not cripple workplaces by taking industrial action. Let’s get knuckled down, use some good old fashioned British grit and determination and show the French how coping with the tough times should be done!