Allez France

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Should be sunning it up down in St Jean de Luz in the French Basque country.  Instead we are moping about the house and it is raining outside.  Our holiday was a victim of the French Air Traffic Control strike.

OK it’s not a disaster (in relative terms).  Nobody died!  But it does seem that industrial action by French people has a considerable impact on their European neighbours.

It raises an issue about strike action, and its impact upon the wider community.  A strike in the old fashioned sense was an action taken by the workers against the Owner.  By withdrawing their labour the workers could impact upon the income of the owners, and bring them to a negotiation table.  In a “perfect” market the customer is not discommoded.  They simply buy a substitute product from another provider.

There is no perfect market for Air Traffic Control.  You cannot call up another service provider and ask them to reroute your flight.  It is a government monopoly.  It is a very vital service.  If Irish Air Traffic Controllers go on strike this impacts upon Irish Air Space, but not much else.  If France goes on strike it impacts on overflights.  Irish people flying to Spain find their flight cancelled because they route through Air Space controlled by France.

Should this be possible?  Should the unilateral action of one French Union have the potential to close down European skies?  Should Air Traffic Controllers have military style work contracts, which make it illegal, or even treasonous to strike?

If we remove the strike weapon from workers what do we give them as a replacement?

These are not issues that would tax my brain if I were lounging in the sun in the South of France.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Booker T. and W.E.B.; by Dudley Randall

“It seems to me,” said Booker T.,
“It shows a mighty lot of cheek
To study chemistry and Greek
When Mister Charlie needs a hand
To hoe the cotton on his land,
And when Miss Ann looks for a cook,
Why stick your nose inside a book?”

“I don’t agree,” said W.E.B.,
“If I should have the drive to seek
Knowledge of chemistry or Greek,
I’ll do it. Charles and Miss can look
Another place for hand or cook.
Some men rejoice in skill of hand,
And some in cultivating land,
But there are others who maintain
The right to cultivate the brain.”

“It seems to me,” said Booker T.,
“That all you folks have missed the boat
Who shout about the right to vote,
And spend vain days and sleepless nights
In uproar over civil rights.
Just keep your mouths shut, do not grouse,
But work, and save, and buy a house.”

“I don’t agree,” said W.E.B.,
“For what can property avail
If dignity and justice fail.
Unless you help to make the laws,
They’ll steal your house with trumped-up clause.
A rope’s as tight, a fire as hot,
No matter how much cash you’ve got.
Speak soft, and try your little plan,
But as for me, I’ll be a man.”

“It seems to me,” said Booker T.—
“I don’t agree,”
Said W.E.B.

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