Shuffling coal, failing French driving license and heels in the sand

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French are experts in the beautiful things of life; they enjoy the day, love delicious food and long lunch and dinner session, they make great wines and drink it daily. They then toast extensively to life, but never to work. They also never toast to the boss, unless he is sitting at the table. But the French excel the best in strikes. Or they use a work ethic that comes nearby a strike. There are daily strikes around us; for better working conditions, cleaner air in the school bus tires, more salary, less rain, better TV programs and so on. Not that any strike ever helps; supported by the powerful trade unions, it’s only good for a day off at work, a long lunch and a nice walk through the city with your colleagues.

Labour law from 1909

Nevertheless, the long-term strike at the SNCF, the French Railways goes too far for the notorious Frenchman. Over 60% think President Macron should hold his ground, although he has already admitted this week to take over 35 billion (!) guilt from SNCF. There will be still 11 billion debt left, for which the SNCF itself has to reorganize. But that’s just the crux now; the employees stick to their own 1909 Collective Labor Agreement, which states that all railway workers will retire at the age of 55 and that they will also have to pay less tax on their benefits. This Collective Labor Agreement comes from the time when coal was manually shuffled into the steam train engine and train rails were manually bent and boarded. Every employee (about 150,000) has these 1909 rights and that makes it logical they cease to hold this labor law. For the time being, travelers have to pay; until the end of June, there is a strike every two days of five.

Explosive cigar

Another steaming issue are the statistics about smoking in France. According to the Ministry of Health, as many as 1 million people smoke less since last year. Bravo, everyone at the Ministry taps each other on the back over so much good work and public information. However, sales figures for electric cigarettes are rising steadily and 94% of e-cigarette users are ex-smokers. I find it a sick sight; sucking on a glass vase. People that smoke an e-cigarette never look happy; did you notice that? Smoking has become a serious business, especially if you know that these electric cigarettes can explode spontaneously like a folding cigar. Ha, that must be karma.

Permis conduire étranger

Many people explode because of the French Bureau for Driving Licenses in Nantes, the CERT, that recently opened on September 11 (who chooses that date?) last year. To save money, the French government decided in its endless wisdom to centralise the renewal of the driving license. In no time, the civil servants in Nantes who sat quietly in their daily work meetings, received monthly requests for 22,000 driver licenses, 90,000 calls per day and 1 e-mail per minute. Hahahaha, I see it happening; everyone in the stress and who is lucky to get in contact by telephone gets ugly answers from the official on duty. The chaos is finally recognized by the Préfecture of Nantes and the civil servants receive temporary help from the Préfecture of Loire-Atlantique. The requests for the renewal or conversion of a foreign passport take even more extra time; it is unofficial said but any foreign request is placed at the bottom of the pile. Our own people first, is the Trump way for the time being.

Go back home

You can only think of 1 thing to invent a solution; go back to your own country! Because you are just temporarily confused. Having a psychosis as a result of the French bureaucratic system is also very credible. You temporarily register with a friend in your place of birth and renew locally your driving license that arrives on your temporary doormat within 5 days. Then you sign out again of the country, with a confused story. Send back the Tax office welcome letters with a statement that it is not what it seems. Beware, it is not my intention to really do this and to invite you to fraud the system; it is just a theoretical solution to a bigger concrete problem within the EU.

Italian partisans

And that brings me to our neighbor Italy where the new government elected with an absolute majority has set a different course. Stricter admission and a lower allowance for migrants, a higher benefit for the poor Italians and a critical look at the EU regulations. Italy is, as it were, being conquered back from the hands of the EU. It will be exciting times in Italy; I do not believe in coincidence that for that reason the song ‘Bella Ciao, Bella Ciao’ about the Italian Partisan freedom fighters is currently high on the charts in France.

The success of the Netflix series Casa del Papel aka Money Heist is in France incredibly huge (with the cast as a guest at the upcoming Monaco TV festival). The story of such smart money-grabbing is, of course, corn on the mill of the dissatisfied citizen. Who does not like the government is finally put a heel? Unfortunately, the same government puts its heels is in the sand of your favorite beach. Juan Les Pins is lost this summer in terms of beach restaurants; there will be no new permits for the time being because the appeal – as it appears – can only be dealt with after the summer. Apparently, the occupation of private beaches in the government tastes like more; also at Cap d’Ail, the beach restaurants with loungers were cleared on our favorite ‘secret’ La Mala beach in Cap d’Ail.

The reason for all this nonsense is that as much beach as possible should be released or reconquered for the free use of the general public. The French government does not like the hardworking class to chill down and drink wine on a lounge bed. As a socialist one prefers to keep less income and more public beach while the tourists and the life-loving locals for a day lounging by the sea will all move to … .Italy! Fortunately, it is only a half hour drive from the Côte d’Azur. And so the EU offers something for everyone; for the time being, you can continue to pay that bottle of rosé in Italy with the euro.

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About The Author
Ab Kuijer

Born and raised in Amsterdam, living on the Côte d'Azur since 2006 and happy with Jo. Former journalist/producer for radio, tv, and magazines. Writes daily content for international clients and real estate. Buying a house in the South of France or the Costa Blanca? Contact Ab and Jo for a fast and professional guidance and start the search for your dream house in the sun!

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