Dec 14th, 2019, 09:18 PM

December Strikes: Day 10

By Lauren Williams
Image Credit: Getty Images
How are AUP students handling the public transport strikes?

France is known for its protest culture and on December 5th, the country's railway workers, teachers and air traffic controllers launched the latest strike. However, this one is unique. Set for an indefinite amount of time, the country has come to a standstill of sorts as public transportation has become extremely limited. The strike is in protest of President Macron's pension reform plan and so far, there seem to be no major changes to his proposed policy.

As of December 13, the RATP transport union intends to continue striking at least through Wednesday, December 18 and they have threatened to proceed through the holidays. Eight metro lines remain completely suspended, six lines are operating only during morning and afternoon rush hour, and only 50 percent of buses are in service. While some classes have been cancelled and some finals were moved up to as early as two weeks ago, many people in the AUP community are still in Paris.

With human pileup on the few metro lines that run automatically and traffic on the road moving slow, many have had to find new ways to get around the city. "It's been a big deal," Destiny Jones, a recent graduate of AUP says. She starts work at 7:45 a.m. every morning and was blindsided by how much it would affect her day. The first day, she took a Lime scooter to work and contacted strep throat from having to ride outside in the cold. "It's been really stressful, and has been taking a lot out of me physically to have to walk or bike everywhere."

"It's difficult, but it's difficult for a reason," Jones says, "It's made me reflect on how much the people who are striking do for us and how under-appreciated their work is." She continues to say that although stressful, it's important that we listen to the people who are working in these unsung jobs because they are the backbone of our society. 

Fifty-three percent of French people back the strike or at least have sympathy for the workers' demands, and Jasmine Cowen, a junior at AUP, feels the same way. She says that during the strikes, she has been walking around eight miles a day because she has to get to work. While Cowen hopes they end soon, she understands the importance of the movement. "As inconvenient as the strikes are to my daily life, I think one of the great things about living in France is seeing how different communities will mobilize with such strength," she says. 

Image Credit: The Local France

Katie Zambrano, a senior at AUP, says that the strikes did not disrupt her week too much, but she is surprised that they have lasted for so long. "My classes were canceled, and my finals didn't require me to go to school," she says, "I mostly just stayed in my neighborhood and didn't leave." While inconvenient, Zambrano says that she respects the nature of the strike. She left the city last week and says that she is "so grateful the school provided shuttles to the airport."

As we inch closer to the holidays, members of the AUP community who are still in town may be able to get home without the school bussing system. The Local France reported this week, "if strikes continue for a long time many workers - unable to take the financial hit - gradually return to work."

Although the strikes have made getting to work and class more difficult for Jones and other members of the community, she says, "This political action is really admirable." Jones adds, "It's not my place as an American to even complain because France is such a social country and what they expect for themselves is what they have received historically. You can't base your ideas on American ideals because we are not in America." 

While the hours in which transportation is accessible are limited, the world is still spinning, and Parisians are still living, for the most part, as usual. "These kinds of strikes force the citizen who doesn't think that they are affected by this kind of policy change to reflect on their politics and the society that they live in," Jones says.