As my wife and I have a history of trade union activism in the UK before retiring to France, we went along to our local anti-pension plan reform demonstration.
Looking over the packed streets of our small town (Châtellerault, in Vienne) I speculated on what your columnist Simon Heffer’s response would be: “Ah, those crazy French workers. Why can’t they be like the Brits and lie down and take a good kicking?”
His column in the February issue of The Connexion did not disappoint (‘Striking workers fighting against pension reform are living in an alternate reality’).
As I had imagined, the subtext was: ‘How dare the rabble expect to share the privileges of the likes of himself and his mates in the finance sector, and retire before they are in a coffin or wheelchair.’
He talks about the unaffordability of equitable retirement conditions but ignores the trillions of dollars that have been found in the US and Europe to prop up the bankers since the 2008 crash.
Also, that global inequality has reached the point where even billionaires are saying they should pay more tax.
The agenda of Mr Heffer and his fellow neo-liberals is that our children and grandchildren inherit the same level of social provision that now operates in countries like Bangladesh and India.
In my mind, the struggle of the French workers is a fight for the majority of us.