Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Lycée Aubanel, blocus

Lycée Aubanel, rue PalaphernerieTrash cans piled up high at the Lycée Aubanel school gate : it's a blockade set up by students in support for the strikes and demonstrations led by unions against the reform to the French old age pension system. While today the standard age for retirement is 60, the new scheme will change it to 62 and up to 67 in certain circumstances. Against the older crowd clinging to jobs that the young want to grab (youth unemployment is quite high in our country), against having to work up to the age of 62 or more themselves, many students joined the movement and blocked entry to their schools. With demonstrations twice a week the movement is strong but how successful is it likely to be? The government is adamant that no amount of street action will affect its determination to pass the law which is about to be voted by the senate.

Poubelles empilées devant les portails, c'est le blocus au Lycée Aubanel : toute la semaine dernière et encore aujourd'hui, l'entrée du lycée a été bloqué par des élèves soutenant la lutte contre la réforme des retraites.
Depuis plus d'une semaine que dure le blocus le schéma est le même : à 8h le matin, la foule des lycéens (plus de 1500) se presse pour entrer. Les "bloqueurs" font le tri : internes, BTS et Terminales S en travaux pratiques sont autorisés à entrer, les autres sont refoulés. Le reste de la journée (comme ici vers midi) c'est nettement plus calme : les élèves empêchés d'assister aux cours sont rentrés chez eux, seul un tout petit groupe d'activistes assure une présence dans la rue. Mobilisation des lycéens ? Jeudi dernier la prolongation du mouvement a été votée à 82% - mais peu nombreux sont ceux qui ont une vraie motivation ; beaucoup admettent en privé qu'ils sont juste ravis de ne pas aller en cours : si on pouvait faire durer le blocus jusqu'au vacances qui commencent ce samedi, ça ne serait que du bonheur. En revanche les élèves déterminés à travailler (Terminales S en particulier) se débrouillent en grande majorité pour aller en cours. Pour entrer ils ont deux options : négocier parfois âprement avec les bloqueurs (pas évident) ou faire le mur en passant par une petite cour derrière (faire le mur pour ENTRER au lycée ? Comme les temps ont changé !!!).
The Lycée (senior high school) has over 1600 students aged 16-18. For the past week the scenario has been pretty much the same: at 8:00 am every morning a crowd of students presses at the school gate to get in. One by one the students responsible for the blockade sort out the few admitted inside - only those with special exams coming up are allowed. Later in the day things get much quieter : those refused entry have usually gone home for the day, only a few activists stay around to hold the fort. I took my photos around lunch time on Thursday, see how quiet it is. How committed are the students ? A massive 82% voted last week for the continuation of the blockade but most of them will readily admit in private (or on facebook) that they're just happy to skip class : they wouldn't mind if the blockade went on until the November school holidays which start this Saturday. Those who are refused entry but are determined to attend school anyway have two options : negotiating their way in (tough job) or climbing over the back wall (climbing over the wall to get IN to school? How the world has changed !). They are mainly those who are in their Terminale year - they know they will be sitting for their baccalaureate at the end of the year and have no time to waste. Once inside it's almost business as usual, their teachers are there.

31 comments:

Tilia said...

Si tous les seniors qui occupent actuellement des postes (parce qu'ils n'ont pas leur nombre de trimestres requis, des femmes le plus souvent) pouvaient libérer leurs places, ça ferait de l'emploi pour les jeunes, non ?

Oui, les temps ont bien changés ! et ceux qui se sont battus pour acquérir les droits sociaux qui sont en train d'être démantelés doivent se retourner dans leur tombe !

Nancy said...

Great post. My (French) Father in Law retired before 60 he wishes he could have worked longer...
Are these kids being brain-washed or are they really fighting for a worthy cause?

Keep up the amazing work! I've missed your blogs....

Nancy from San Diego

"All things French" said...

I guess as in all cases there are for / and against arguments for le greve. For a person not living in France it is difficult to make a judgement as to what I think about raising the retirement age. here in Australia the age is 65 yrs for men and this is going to be increased again.
It's all very contoversial.
~Dianne~

nathalie said...

Yes Dianne and Nancy, it is a tricky subject. I don't think there's an easy answer.

Owen said...

No easy answers certainly, but what really bothers me is that though of course the right to go on strike exists, what about the right to go to school or to work if one chooses to do so ? I don't want my childrens' or my own rights infringed upon by a small number of people who believe it is fine for them to hold an entire country hostage against their agenda... This situation is creating havoc for me, personally, at work, I really just can't understand the hullaballoo over two more years of work. In the US the age is 67 now for full retirement benefits from the social security administration. Allowing a small group of students to dictate their will on the majority who apparently seem to want to go to school, just seems dead wrong to me. I think the CRS should prevent any small group from blockading schools or refineries or highways. Not to mention all the travelers who have had their flights cancelled. I think that is dead wrong also. Hope I'm not offending anyone, but enough is enough already.

lewi14 said...

Brave students!

jb said...

Anyone who doesn't recognise that the demographics make raising the retirement age a necessity are in the same boat as the category was the folks who think Michael Jackson was behind 9/11.
(And 62 won't work either. Think 67...)

Chri said...

Justice et répartition plus équitable des richesses: Que des gens n'arrivent pas à vivre de leur travail est révoltant, que des gens qui ont travaillé toute leur vie n'aient pas assez pour vivre dignement est révoltant, que d'autres ne sachent pas quoi faire de leur richesse est révoltant... Voila, déjà trois motifs de criage!

Adam said...

Is this the school of your children Nathalie? You seem very well briefed!

I remember an attempted strike by schoolkids in England in the 1980s - we were told that if we walked out of our school and joined in, we would be severely punished!

Whilst I believe that schoolkids should have the right to protest too, I find this idea of filtering the entrance and deciding who can and can't go in pretty lamentable.

Dina said...

Thanks for the good reporting. Since these particular trash cans are not burning, we would not see this scene on TV.
You have a tough situation now in France. Good luck.

la fille énervée said...

Il faudrait que la jeunesse française apprendre d'avantage ce qu'est la démocratie. Fait la grève qui veut, va en cours qui veut et non qui ne peut pas.
D'une façon plus générale, on fait grève mais on n'emmerde pas la France entière.
J'ai du travailler jusqu'à 62 ans pour avoir ma retraite, et jusqu'à maintenant, je n'en suis pas morte.
Il y a des décennies on a mis la France plus aux loisirs (retraite à 60 ans, semaine des 35 heures)qu'au travail, et voilà maintenant le résultat. Il manque des cotisations. Ce qui m'énerve le plus c'est de voir des jeunes manifester contre cette réforme des retraites alors qu'ils n'ont même pas commencé à bosser. J'ai entendu hier une fille dont les propos m'ont laissée sur le cul, "déjà qu'au Lycée, on est fatigué"....
Mon Dieu, comme la France change !

Avignon said...

Oui, le fond du problème n'est pas l'âge de la retraite.
Le fond du problème est la répartition des richesses.
Sans aller jusqu'à justifier l'activité des casseurs, on peut la comprendre. Un épiphénomène.
Le peuple a-t-il d'autre moyen de coercition que la violence ?
Il est où Robin des Bois ?

Chri said...

Quand on s'épanouit dans son travail, qu'on s'y réalise, qu'on y trouve son compte, il est révoltant de ne pas pouvoir l'accomplir au-delà de soixante sept ans...
En revanche quand on s'y épuise, qu'on s'y ennuie, qu'on y est exploité, il vaut mieux que ça s'arrête un peu plus tôt, qu'on puisse profiter un peu de son temps libre...

biebkriebels said...

It is strange the students are so active against retraite. They are so far from it now. In the Netherlands we go from 65 to 67, so what are the French talking about, it can always be worse. Be happy with what you have.

nathalie in avignon said...

Thanks to all for your most interesting comments. I ca see that many facets of the question are brought forward.

Adam yes, this is my daughter's school. She's one of the determined students who repeatedly climbed over the wall to attend class or insistently demanded to be admitted in. She gets pretty infuriated when she sees lazy kids who care more about doing nothing now (and hoping to do nothing later) stopping her from going to school.

Owen I'm not happy with the blockade either - I too think it's plain wrong. The school principal seems incapable of enforcing free access to the school. Only once on Monday did police intervene to bar the activists from blocking entry. All other days a police car was stationed nearby but no policeman intervened.

Thanks to those of you who contributed feedback on the retirement age in your country. Retiring at 60 definitely seems a lost cause to me.

jeandler said...

Abattre le mur de l'argent...

vera said...

allons bon, tu donnes dans les poubelles now??? :-))) après la poésie des voiles ? et la queue des rats, demain ? :-)))

Nathalie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Avignon said...

Mon fils arrive de Lyon, et il semble que les Avignonnais sont bien gentils... !

nathalie said...

Ah oui Michel ? Je suis allée voir le site Rebellyon.info, en effet ça a l'air chaud.
http://rebellyon.info/

Cela dit, franchement ça ne me déplait pas que les jeunes avignonnais ne soient pas les pires casseurs de France.

brigetoun said...

la fille énervée les 35 heures n'ont pas été moins de travail mais travail plus concentré, ce qui a permis aux français de rester dans le peloton de tête pour la productivité. Et a fait que chaque année compte. Tant mieux pour toi si tu es arrivée à 62 ans e bon état. Mo j'ai arrêté au même âge mais un rien cassée (à vrai dire c'étaient comme beaucoup de petits cadres du tertiaire 35 heures payées mais entre 40 et 60 heures effectuées, et une quinzaine de jours de vacances, plus quelques demi-journées) et j'étais dans le privilégiés.
De tout coeur avec les grévistes.

brigetoun said...

Michel, Nathalie, je trouve en effet que les jeunes des quartiers d'Avignon, qui ne sont pas dans les mieux lotis de France sont assez remarquablement raisonnables (est ce vraiment le mot ?)

Janet M Kincaid said...

As an American expat living in France, I have to say I and my fellow expats find all of this striking and protesting a bit ridiculous. Sure, retiring at 60 sounds lovely, but then what do you do? I'm happy to work until I'm 65, or longer if my body and brains hold out and I can be useful and productive. In the meantime, I'm glad I'm living in a frontier area. I'll buy my gas in Switzerland for the next few weeks.

Great photos, by the way, of a very current event.

Jilly said...

Striking is such a way of life in France and one that has so often brought results in the past. Sarkozy seems to be doing a Maggie Thatcher with this one and won't give it - remember the Miners' Strike in the UK?

It just seems so wrong when it affects so many other people. Petrol shortages which mean the livelihoods of so many are disrupted.

We all live longer and longer and so of course if people are to get their pensions, we have to work longer to pay for it. That's how I see it.

Meanwhile, Nathalie, great to see these shots which really show how it is. Bravo!

nathalie in avignon said...

Janet, Jilly - I guess one of the interesting points in my photos is how quiet it all is. The media would probably think this isn't striking enough to show - the street violence in Lyon is much more fun to report about, hence the very distorted view that some of my overseas readers might have about what's going on in France. I'm not denying the numerous street protests we've had in Avignon - about 2 demonstrations a week for the past 2 or 3 weeks - but there really is no violence at all.

nathalie said...

To all - I've read your comments and feedback with much interest. THANK YOU VERY MUCH !

Who Is Afraid of Alfred Hitchcock? said...

Bonjour! Nathalie...
Merci, for sharing...I have been following this story since hearing about it on international news recently.
DeeDee ;-D

steviewren said...

Thanks for the explanation. I had wondered why the issue was so important to students rather than older people who would be affected right away. Now I understand.

This may be simplistic, but it seems the real problem is that more jobs are needed, so that all can work. (I say this as a laid off worker who needs a job myself)

Cryingbear said...

Les temps ne changent pas tellement... j'ai étudié dans ce lycée et me souviens avoir été "en grève" et fais des manif...

/t. said...

nathalie,

nice bit of reporting
&
as always, great photos

i hope your country (all of us) is able to weather this current economic storm without great hardship

we all now must do our part to save the wealthy

× × ×

/t.

Michelaise said...

Morte de rire à l'idée (j'ai "fait" 68, enfin presque !!) d'escalader et de faire le mur pour entrer au lycée !

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