The strike is a major test for the Socialist government, brought to power by voters’ rejection of its predecessor’s high-handed austerity measures. “This government places a premium on achieving social tranquillity as a condition for carrying out the austerity measures necessary to qualify for the Euro,” says Crumley. With France supplying the arterial transport route for all of western Europe — last year’s French truckers’ strike badly bruised economies throughout the region — there is strong pressure on the government to find a quick resolution.
“The government will step in, through a combination of pressure and incentives such as tax rebates, to push for an early resolution,” says Crumley. Still, he adds, experts believe the dispute could last up to 12 days — a long time, even in a nation that, as De Gaulle complained, produces over 400 different cheeses.