In 2006-07, I was working as a French language assistant in Sète, a smallish fishing port on the Mediterranean cost. It’s a beautiful place and I’d definitely recommend visiting it if you’re ever in the south of France.
I had a great year and was lucky enough to experience that special French event – la grève (the strike) not once, but five times.
A couple of times the teachers themselves went on strike. One time it was over working hours. The government had plans to get rid of a system whereby certain professeurs could work fewer hours in the classroom to compensate for time spent preparing for lessons.
When I first heard about the strike, I was tempted to think it had been called as a chance to do some Christmas shopping. It was on 18th December, after all.
But I remember the heated discussion that went on in the staff room. On one side there were the teachers bent on striking to defend their rights. On the other were those who felt this was an unnecessary strike, that the pupils would suffer and that there were more important battles to be fought.
It was thrilling to witness people so passionate about politics when in England I’ve only ever encountered apathy.
Of course, it also helped that the strike meant I could have the day off. Even if some teachers were coming in, I was told that most pupils would use it as an excuse to take a day off.