We're entering a period of strikes, prompted by the current climate of austerity in France. A friend who is a civil servant explained it to us.
Civil Servants' pay has been frozen for some years, with just small index-linked rises, but their pouvoir d'achat (ability to buy) has been eroded. In addition they receive various allowances linked to their status, but these allowances do not count towards their final pension, so they are concerned about retirement, too.
Meanwhile railway workers are the main antagonists against the government, pointing out that while they have to live with pay freezes, members of parliament and the government have not had their pay frozen. What's sauce for the goose is, after all, sauce for the gander.
So today sees a BIG demonstration in the heart of Bordeaux and from the middle of next week the railway workers will be striking two days out of five, with a calendar of strikes published lasting up to the end of June.