At this point, it’s safe to assume there will be a strike by French public workers more often than the Olympics come around (though, interestingly, they never seem to coincide). Taking none to kindly to proposed reforms by Nicholas Sarkozy, who wants to cut back on pensions that allow public employees to retire at 50 — oui, 50! — railway folks have called an open-ended strike.
That view was echoed by Prime Minister Francois Fillon who told parliament: “Millions of French people will be deprived of their fundamental freedom, the freedom of movement and even perhaps to work.”
Some cue the translator to say Thanks Union Bosses!
The problem of unionized government employees threatening to bankrupt the public purse or flex to much influence is by no means limited to France. The UK’s Tony Blair warned against government union power, and the problem persists in America (see: Enron by the Sea).
UPDATE (11/14): Reuters adds this quote from a displeased French woman: