French Strikes: Europe vs America Perspective

On October 24, 2010, in Health, Trends, by Raj Murthy

The French Government is trying to implement some reforms to its retirement and pension program. The reforms would basically increase the retirement age from 60 current to 62 and then raise the age pensioners can receive full state pension from 65 to 67. All this is set to get activated not today but in 2018. Sounds simple in theory but then why are the French revolting. One possible explanation could be that well , they are French and they love to strike, for every possible thing, and for every possible opportunity. The strikes often turn violent and rioting and vandalism are quite common. Maybe, its because the French are socialists and the Americans are obviously capitalists. Is that all?

This is more of a cultural and ideological issue than anything else. Living in the United States, I have not seen an actual strike and I hope to never see one. Apart from the occasional well organized parades and some processions, I am yet to see trash pile up, streets go uncleaned for weeks and gas stations remain closed with no end in sight. Hard work and personal responsibility are the core of the American value system and this is something that will never go away. Is the American quality of life much better than in France. I have no answer to this question. Personally, I can say without doubt that I would live nowhere else but just for kicks here is a short comparison. You decide.

United States : Average of 12 paid vacation days a year, start work at 16-18 and retirement is usually at 65, although some are putting it away for a few more years to ensure income and savings. Pensions do not exist except in some professions and social security is rarely enough to pay for expenses. Health care is not universal and incredibly expensive especially as you get older. Work hours 40-60hours a week and overtime may sometimes apply.

France : Must take 35 days of minimum paid vacation for most this averages 60 days of paid vacation days that must be utilized. Retirement age is 60 and well they are in the process of rioting and striking against plans to increase that to 62. Pensions are standard and plentiful. Health care is universal and free. Work is limited to a maximum of 35 hours a week and overtime is forbidden.

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