Why Is The French Labour Movement So Powerful?
From time to time, I check out the The Real News Network.Â I’ve just finished watching aÂ video clip they’ve featured on labour protests in France over the government’s attempt to raise the “pension age” from 60 to 62.Â TheÂ coverage includes a brief look at the impact of the blockades of French oil refineries.
I’m struck by how powerful the French labour movement is portrayed to be in the footage.Â Though I’m only 36 years old, I can’t recall a time when the Canadian labour movement has been successful at having such a big impact on the economy through an act of protest.Â Â (And when tens of thousands of Canadians took to the streets in Toronto for the G20 recently, they had the living crap beaten out of them, apparently with the blessing of voters.)
At the risk of sounding naive, I wonder what it is that makes French labour so powerful.Â I’m especially curious as to what it would take for organizedÂ labour in Canada to become equally powerful.
UPDATE: According to a CBC story, one-quarter of gas stations in France remain closed.Â The majority of the French support the protests (even as they move into their second week), millions have taken to the streets,Â and President Sarkozy’s approval ratingÂ has now fallenÂ to its lowest level ever.