|President Hollande with heads of state in Normandy|
The second strike was called by the Intermittents du Spectacle (actors and technicians in the entertainment business who do not work full-time but are paid year-round). Once an intermittent has done three-and-a-half months of paid work, the government will pay him the rest of the year through subsidies and unemployment insurance. This special statute, not extended to other unemployed people, is now endangered by the MEDEF (union of French employers) who want this preferential treatment changed and brought in line with other unemployment rules. The intermittents responded with threats to close down all the summer festivals.
In this climate of strikes and demands I cannot suppress a thought of the sacrifices it took to liberate this country so it could rebuild a just and fair society which today offers a free national health system, free public education, more paid holidays than most (35 days/year), 16 weeks of paid maternity leave (increased to 26 weeks for a third child), and numerous subsidies in the form of family allowances (paid to rich and poor alike based on number of children), rent subsidies and school supplies (income related) - to the extent that 47 percent of the French population receives financial aid at a cost to the government of €66.9 billion last year. All these benefits were built up during the Trente Glorieuses, the 30 years of reconstruction and full employment following World War II that led to the consumer society and made France rich.
|Pont des Arts, before|