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Amazon fires employees who supported “yellow vest” blockades of Amazon sites (francetvinfo.fr)
75 points by zoobab 18 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 100 comments



Not because they supported the Yellow Vests, as anyone is entitled to support an union or political party.

They got sacked because they supported (on social media) the blocking of Amazon sites and warehouses. My understanding of French law is that such actions are illegal to begin with and, obviously, a breach of your duties towards your employer.

The title of the article (in French) is explicit.


The article says the motivation for firing them was that those employees have showned some support on social networks to the Yellow Vests movement:

"Motif ? Ils ont exprimé, sur les réseaux sociaux, une forme de soutien aux "gilets jaunes" "

I doubt that this is really the case though.


The title and the content are different. As I read through

> Le Parisien cite l'exemple d'un employé qui aurait donné rendez-vous à des collègues "devant la porte de son lieu de travail pour partir bloquer un entrepôt voisin, à Lesquin", dans le Nord. Un autre aurait lancé : "Il faut du renfort et des palettes, les amis !"

Basically the guy organized with his co-workers to blockade a warehouse (I assume of Amazon).

I don't think they fired guys that vocally supported Yellow Vests demands. Those would be in the hundreds if not thousands. It seems to me like they fired trouble makers.

I have only a couple words: Good riddance. Saying this as someone who has been affected by blockades (in another country) and seen people, companies and business being affected and devastated by it.

There is a difference between complaining and blocking a road/access.


> There is a difference between complaining and blocking a road/access.

Yes, complaining does nothing (most if not all complaints die out in the political machinery), while blocking roads etc. usually tends to yield immediate results once those with power in society are affected themselves. Macron was forced to make a lot of concessions towards the poorer population.

If you want to make a political statement as ordinary citizen these days you need to do something with real measurable impact. While I don't think throwing molotovs on McDonald's is a viable path to solutions, grinding the infrastructure to a halt by mass protests/strikes certainly is.


Sounds good until everyone starts doing it and the whole country collapses. Cool isn't it?

There is a reason why there are democratic institutions. The correct way to do it, is to wait for the next election and elect your preferred president. You can also strike on your current job (at your own risk), leave your government job, leave the country.

Blocking a public road does not help anyone and makes you more of a pirate.


“Sounds good until everyone starts doing it and the whole country collapses. Cool isn't it?“

This is called a “general strike”, and as one of the few means for the working class to assert power even in supposedly democratic countries, it is indeed very cool

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_strike


> Sounds good until everyone starts doing it and the whole country collapses.

Well, better than having a situation like in Germany where the "Agenda 2010" reforms created an entire class of people working full-time but effectively being poor, called "Arbeitsprekariat". French protests have so far succeeded to prevent the repeating of German mistakes.

> The correct way to do it, is to wait for the next election and elect your preferred president.

The problem in France was that they had two choices thanks to kick-out voting: either far-right Le Pen or neoliberal Macron. So many chose Macron, simply to prevent Le Pen from winning.

To say that Macron is the legitimate president wanted by the majority of French population is... a stretch.


> To say that Macron is the legitimate president wanted by the majority of French population is... a stretch.

Everyone wants a free meal, free health care, free education and cheap public transport. Plus a cushy government job. These things come at a cost. You can't let people make these decisions (unless you are in Switzerland where you get a majority of people voting against a free lunch).

Many people in France are trapped in pay-cheque to pay-cheque and have lots of financial problems. So any pay increase will "save" them and they'll vote of it.

You said the french protests succeeded. That's only true if Macron was preventing French people from accessing their wealth. If that's not the case then the French protests have succeeded at making the future much worse. At the expenses of having a few more pennies today.

Hell, there is even a very close example: Greece.

ps: I'm not saying that Macron is the savior of the French finances. I'm not sure if his reforms are legitimate. But France has lots of baggage to reform and had lost lots of its influential mojo. Time to downscale.


> Hell, there is even a very close example: Greece.

Greece (and Italy) are in no way comparable to France. Both countries have the historical problem of tax avoidance/evasion as a "public sport" which everyone from the small baker shop to the multi billion ship owner competes in, with a lot of organised crime/mafia added on top in Italy.

Both governments would have more than enough money to properly fund their citizens and their infrastructure if said citizens would pay their taxes.

> But France has lots of baggage to reform and had lost lots of its influential mojo. Time to downscale.

The question is, downscale but at what cost? Look at how much the "downscaling" aka the "Agenda 2010" in Germany cost... we lost the trust of a significant part of the population in the democratic system as a result and "gained" a relevant far-right party presence in parliaments.


Macron is not "neoliberal"...

France needs reforms and has been postponing them for decades. What Macron is trying to do is needed and long overdue.


> France needs reforms and has been postponing them for decades.

France needs stability a lot more than reforms. As a country, France still has a highly educated population, great infrastructure, a rich internal market and a solid canvas of small, medium and large business. France should be seeking growth through innovation and investment rather than constantly tweaking its tax code. France is however deeply handicaped by the euro. It is in my opinion the first victim of German dumping (the Hartz reform).

The whole France needs reform mantra is more rooted in ideology than facts. Macron is a Blairite who would rather fight the German by similarly depressing wages rather than confront them directly. It is a losing situation for everyone except the employers and will only lead to more inequality and more poverty in Europe. But well, guess who financed Macron presidential campain...


How do you achieve growth? That's the key issue.

That's why the country needs reforms. Because the chronic lack of growth leads to protests like the Yellow Vests's.

It is not handicaped by the Euro. The issue is systemic: Red tape, anti-business, anti-innovation, bloated public sector.


> Yes, complaining does nothing (most if not all complaints die out in the political machinery), while blocking roads etc. usually tends to yield immediate results

Now imagine a neighbor being disturbed by your noisy party but instead of asking you to turn it down or calling the Police, he welds your doors and windows shut and cuts your electricity. Now you tell me if the practical application of your own suggestion sounds reasonable.


To make your hypothetical match the facts of this situation, imagine that your neighbors had been doing that for months on end, ignored your requests to keep the volume down, and the police never did anything about it despite your repeated complaints.

In such case, your response would not have been entirely unreasonable.


But once you do it do you have a moral or legal claim on anything anymore? If the same neighbor beats you silly for ruining his party can you then go to the Police or court and ask them for help and justice? Can you say "but he was doing the same or worse"? Can you claim innocence because you unilaterally decided that you are in charge of settling the matter? How exactly do you decide what is the appropriate response?

These are honest questions, I'm genuinely curious how people here see it. Even if I can assume internet opinions are very different from real life ones.

You are always free to take any action you deem appropriate but you will also have to take the consequences. So you can block your employer's warehouse in protest for something but then why be surprised when the time comes to pay for it?


I don't understand your argument. The fact that you and/or your neighbor committed crimes against each other doesn't negate the crimes you have committed. You're both guilty and the police would likely arrest both of you.

That being said, whether your response in the original hypothetical is reasonable is not the same thing as whether it is legal or moral. In all 3 hypothetical actions, the act is illegal. In some cases, a lesser illegal act is justified to prevent a greater legal act but the specifics of that depends on the jurisdiction.

So you can block your employer's warehouse in protest for something but then why be surprised when the time comes to pay for it?

In this case, both Amazon and the employees have violated the law. The law the employees violated was a lesser law than the numerous laws Amazon violated. Amazon is very likely to face a lawsuit in court and lose--the French are extremely protective of labor rights.


My argument is that considering you are entitled to take action as you see fit and justifying it by you not getting results in other ways is NOT a useful or sustainable approach and as such it's not a helpful advice.

From the original poster:

> If you want to make a political statement as ordinary citizen these days you need to do something with real measurable impact.

i would add "maybe refrain from breaking the law". Encouraging people to take matters into their own hands is pretty much the worst advice you could give them. Not only will that not really change much (unless we're talking about a full blown revolution like overturning communism) but it will also put them in trouble. Who do you think will suffer more? Amazon? Or the guys who have to show up at the next employer as "those people that will sabotage your company whenever they consider it appropriate"?

> the numerous laws Amazon violated

But you're not willing to wait for the court to decide the matter.

> Amazon is very likely to face a lawsuit in court and lose--the French are extremely protective of labor rights.

If the expectation is that Amazon will lose anyway and justice will be done then the only reason to break the law and sabotage your workplace is not justice or prevention, it's revenge. You are actually not gaining anything from this but the satisfaction of causing damage. You know what was the perfectly acceptable way of "punishing" Amazon? Quitting and encouraging others to do it. Without enough employees Amazon loses money.

What's your argument supporting? That I'm wrong in saying that people should not take justice into their own hands?


Both the title and the article are clear that this support is specifically support for blockages of Amazon sites.

Title: "Amazon licencie des salariés qui ont affiché leur soutien aux blocages des "gilets jaunes""

Which translates "Amazon sacks employees who publicly expressed their support for Yellow Vests' blockages"

They report that one posted the following on Facebook " "Bravo à tous pour le blocage d'Amazon", which translates to "Congratulations to all for blocking Amazon!" Another called on social media for people to join a blockage and to bring supplies to block the road.

To me that looks like a good and valid reason to sack an employee.


Surely the answer is more nuanced?

If I as an employee of Amazon, during work time, as an Amazon representative denounce Amazon, then yes sacking may be reasonable.

If I'm on my own time speaking as a private individual? I wouldn't say its reasonable to sack them for that.

I don't speak French and your translated text doesn't clarify either way.


I think calling on people to bring materials for the blockade of your employer is reason for sacking regardless of when the call was made.


Isn't that what a picket is?

Is that also a sacking offense?


Picketing is simply standing on public land outside the gates, holding slogans.

Blocking the way in either direction is usually an offence (you can get arrested).


Picketing is free speech; I fully support the act.

Blockading access to the site and impeding operations goes beyond legal/supportable picketing. This I do not support and would support an employer who sacks an employee for it.


The original post I was responding to said:

"Amazon sacks employees who publicly expressed their support for Yellow Vests' blockages"

So that doesn't seem to be 'calling on people' to bring material as you wrote in your previous post. I'm also unsure if your post is referring to employees directly partaking in blockading? Please clarify we are on the same page here, because as far as I'm concerned, this is supporting, not partaking.

I wont argue with you regarding the nature of 'blockage' because I don't know but 'blockages' could mean picketing or blockading to me.


From the article: "Il faut du renfort et des palettes, les amis !"

which translates roughly to: "It takes reinforcement and pallets, friends!"

That is what I read as "calling on people to bring blockade materials." (My French is somewhat halting and far from fluent, but I don't think I've mis-understood here.)

Pallets don't have a place in free speech/supportable picketing, IMO. They do have a place in illegal blockades.


Pallets are commonly broken up for firewood for pickets, especially in the middle of winter.

Pallets certainly don't say blockade to me.

So again that could be read either way.


If there's a blockade and that blockade is using pallet material, I would expect the ex-employee to lose that argument.

If it's just for fuel, I agree with your point.


Agreed :)


I'm afraid it is not more nuanced. As a private individual you have duties to your employer and those duties do not stop when you leave office.


Your employer on the other has has duties to support political expression, free political expresion is a basic right in a democracy, as basic as it gets. Last time I checked, the Yellow Vests were not a prescribed movement.

What I really do not get is the support for employers and the lack of support for labour on this site. Why is this?


Mmm. It's not a proscribed movement either.


Its quite reasonable to not support your employer if there are disagreements. But one might be at the wrong job in the first place then, although not all have the luxury to choose. That's why there are unions and strikes and stuff. It's quite strange Amazon would fire them. Google didn't fire anyone for not supporting or cheering for various government work. But I guess, warehouse workers have less rights/power, and that's what this comes down to. Which strangely enough might also be the reason they went on the streets in the first place.


[flagged]


It is true in the sense that there is a legal concept called "duty of loyalty"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duty_of_loyalty

It should be pretty obvious you can't compete with your employer. If you want to compete then quit. You can't steal their trade secrets even if it's off duty. There's lots of other things covered by the duty of loyalty concept and if you explore them they almost all make perfect sense. It easy to see how the world wouldn't function without it.


That's for shareholders or corporate officers. That doesn't seem to cover employee/employer relationships. Am I reading that wrong?


> Let's say that is true...I don't think it is, but let's say that it is...where does it end? Can I speak ill of them in public, like at a bar or cafe? What about on the phone? What if my employer contributes funds and energy to causes that are directly opposed to my well being?

Of course, you're free to speak ill of your employer at any time. And they're free to fire you for anything they hear about.

It may be shortsighted of them to do so; with a good employer, you should be able to criticize in a productive way and work to change things. But that's not an issue of legality.


We're still talking about France, right? What employers get away with in the US isn't really relevant.


I didn't say "in the US" at any point. I was responding to someone suggesting that there was some kind of inherent right to speak ill of your employer with no repercussions.


It's the same in France. As some Amazon employees have discovered...


It's not even close to being the same.


The duties of an employee to his employers are essentially the same. And breaching those obligation is valid cause to be sacked.

The user you replied to wrote: "Of course, you're free to speak ill of your employer at any time. And they're free to fire you for anything they hear about."

That's broadly how it is in France (there is obviously a threshold with regards to what you say)

Quick Google:

"Un salarié critiquant violemment la politique des dirigeants de son entreprise et dénigrant son employeur ainsi que d'autres salariés. Faute grave. (Chambre sociale, arrêt n° 10-16929 du 27 septembre 2011)"


Well, yeah, if you zoom out enough they are 'essentially', 'broadly' the same. If you use those modifiers I agree with you.

Then when the case hits the courts the outcomes will be markedly different.


It's really quite simple.

Imagine that you are the employer and an employee of yours, on their free time, goes around agitating others to explicitly hurt your company. Can't get any more nuanced that this.


Depends on what "hurt" means, doesn't it? If you are "agitating" to organize political action, then the most reasonable course of action is to get the interested parties to a negotiating table and come to an agreement that works for everyone.

If "hurt" means "anything that keeps me from making as much money as possible to the exclusion of other people's interests"...


Hence the "explicitly" qualifier in my comment. Any hostile intent aimed directly at the company itself.


Does that mean a material loss of property or just potential loss of profits?

I think you get where I'm going with this.


If I go around campaigning to introduce a carbon tax, reduce plastic use, some other initiative. Does my employer have some right to sack me because it might tangentially hit their bottom line?

Am I duty bound to vote for, and encourage others to vote for, any party that would lower corporate taxes?

Do I have to (in this example) do all my shopping through Amazon, or am I also allowed to shop at competitors?

So yes, I think you can get more nuanced


> it might tangentially hit their bottom line

Take your strawman back.

I didn't say "tangentially", I said "explicitly". Anything that is aimed directly at the company itself. Like suggesting to nail the office door shut to prevent any work from being done.


How is it a straw man?

You wrote "to explicitly hurt your company". I'm not sure the word explicitly actually changes the meaning here. I could campaign to introduce a carbon tax. I'm not doing it to explicitly hurt my oil company employer. Even if I know it probably will at some level.

There's degrees of 'explicitness'. What about campaigning against fossil fuels if you work for an oil company? What about a car company? Theres a line, and I'm willing to bet it will differ from employee to employer.


They got sacked because they supported (on social media) the blocking of Amazon sites and warehouses

But action was aimed not at just those 3 employees. It was clearly aimed at all employees who expressed support the Gilets Jaunes - to intimidate them from further action.

As such, it was a shot across the bow basically.


> It was clearly aimed at all employees who expressed support the Gilets Jaunes

And your source is?


You don't need a "source" to make that kind of inference.


Facts, who needs those, eh?


I'm assuming you know already the difference between an inference and a fact.


Regardless of the merits or lack of merits, the Yellow Vest movement lacks the general support worker-related social movements tend to have probably because they don’t perfectly align with mainstream accepted leftist ideology.

On the one hand they are socialist, on the other hand they are seen as the French version of Trump supporters, so people who would ordinarily overlook their antiestablishmentarisnim aren’t (damaging private property, blockades, etc.), but on the other hand government strong tactics (teargas, student arrests, which is usually decried).

In essence, they are conflicted because they identify with workers’ movements just not this workers’ movement.


> On the one hand they are socialist

A significant number of Yellow vests are on the far right or at least indeed a French version of Trump-ism.


My point is this workers’ movement is problematic for the left because they are a ‘90s labor movement, a pre WTO movement and don’t adhere to what the current left envisions as a proper labor movement despite having all the trappings of a labor movement they generally support.

So this makes it clear the modern left cares about politics more than labor in and of itself.

When other labor movements have Marxist elements people don’t typically say, yes, but they have a bunch of marxists too, otherwise I’d support them.


The problem, in France at least, is that the people on the left with currently the most support are leftists who support people like Maduro in Venezuela and seek to destroy capitalism...

That is to say: There is no credible powerful force on the left.


I agree. The translated HN title is inaccurate. The article only goes so far as to mention two examples, so it's possible that some of the terminated employees did less egregious stuff - but based on the available data this is about more than simply voicing a political opinion.


The French title of the article in front of me states pretty much to the letter what the HN translation states. Was the HN one changed in the meantime?

The subtitle provides some info, stating that they were fired for showing a behavior that contradicts company values. Later on it says that the fired employees didn't respect their contractual obligations by instigating to block the warehouse.

To be honest I have to wonder what the balance is between freedom of speech and fulfilling your contractual obligation. I mean who's more right here? The employee who's free to state what's on their mind or the employer who's fires someone for trying to sabotage the workplace?


I'm not sure what article you have before your eyes, then.

The one I have is titled: "Amazon licencie des salariés qui ont affiché leur soutien aux blocages des "gilets jaunes"".

That translates to "Amazon sacks employees who publicly expressed their support for Yellow Vests' blockages"

Now, that's clearly quite different from the title of this HN thread (Edit: which is "Amazon fire workers that supported the Yellow Jackets movement")


... which, for the record, is "Amazon fire workers that supported the Yellow Jackets movement"


Original

> Amazon licencie des salariés qui ont affiché leur soutien aux blocages des "gilets jaunes

Translation

> Amazon fires employees who have shown their support for the "yellow vests" blockades

HN title

> Amazon fires employees who supported “yellow vest” blockades of Amazon sites

I did not use Google Translate but I'm sure it says nothing about "publicly" since that word is completely missing from the article's title. The HN title is perfectly equivalent... now.

I assume the title of the thread was changed before both of our comments. Which makes my original question legitimate and also makes me wonder if the mismatch you see is caused by the wrong translation.


At the time you made your first comment (as indicated by multiple responders quoting the title in place at the time), the title omitted that the employees had supported the Amazon blockades specifically as opposed to the political movement in general

"Amazon fire workers that supported the Yellow Jackets movement"

vs.

"Amazon fires employees who supported “yellow vest” blockades of Amazon sites"


The title of the thread seems to have changed: now it is 'Amazon fires employees who supported “yellow vest” blockades of Amazon sites'


My understanding of French law is that such actions are illegal to begin with and, obviously, a breach of your duties towards your employer.

these people aren't part of being at the forefront of automation-innovation but are victims of it. If Amazon wouldn't have killed the bookstore and retail sector in large parts of rural France (and Europe), these employees wouldn't be working for Amazon. They work there because companies like Amazon fail to pay their taxes and are proprietary-algorithms which have drained all humanity and social cohesion (Uber, AirBNB et al).

Although I don't blame Amazon alone in this (companies like this are a symptom not the cause of our Capitalistic Technological Society, but I think whether this is illegal or not is beside the point and we'd be better off listening to their pain instead of siding with "the law". The Gilets Jaunes being called by the French state "Illegal" are a good example of why this form of protests works and drives home the message to these corporate overlords. Even an article like this fuels some rage during the coming "Act-XYZ" IMO the language of money is the only language these people/companies understand.

A shame they didn't think of better opsec for organizing this. Use a burner phone use signal and not some facebook account with your real name to spread the message. This is exactly how they'll get busted by their nanny-state and why the nanny-state is able to use language that otherwise is reserved for "terrorists" or threats to "civil order". Macron, the minister of interior, and their oligarch friends from Rothschild are the real crooks ... and unlike the protestors that risk losing their jobs, or their eyes from the police aggressive use of rubber bullets ("fireballs") and who have actual "skin in the game".

My point is that the law must change and these companies should be taxed accordingly so that the Precariat is lifted out of their precarious position. Unless this changes I fear that the only way forward is more protests (and violence).


It's very simple to validate your hypothesis: if this was a small French shop and its 2-3 employees were campaigning on social media for people to block access to the shop, could the owner fire them for the same reason? Would it be imoral as well?


your validation perhaps ignores that a small french shop, being campaigned against by 2-3 people would never reach this scale?


Why does scale change the dynamics in this situation? I specifically used the exact same situation that happened with Amazon against a smaller shop. Is it or is it not imoral for the small shop owner to fire those employees?


> I specifically used the exact same situation that happened with Amazon against a smaller shop.

No, you left all the important details out. Why are the 2-3 employees of this hypothetical small shop campaigning to block it? That matters.


you're asking me to compare apples with oranges. But fwiw if a small bookshop is hypothetically at the same time an oligopoly, able to spend millions in political lobbying, while at the same time guilty of avoiding taxes via global tax-loopholes then yes them firing their employees would be immoral.

Tax avoidance isn't to be blamed just on these mega-corps but our political system which in France parachutes people from these companies into politics and vice versa. E.g. don't hate the player hate the game, but it's still one-sided to point the finger at an external party just because Amazon pays the salaries of some of us here. As I wrote above - these companies are a symptom of a broken / rigged system which neglects the statistical outliers or fringe cases that aren't maximizing their profits. I'm such an outlier since I never shop on Amazon and I've watched my selection in bookstores dwindle over the past 2 decades ... Going to bookstores and spend my whole Friday/Sat there browsing paper-books was once my fav way to relax. Now everything needs to be ordered bc it's not in stock... And I blame Amazon for it the same way as I blame starfucks, Zara et al for killing the high-streets in every town in the world. There is no more point in traveling because every place looks the same. And even people think the same.

But again this isn't just about books but about total "disruption" without thinking about the effects to the existing social fabric. We're all just guniea pigs in this and the solution offered by BigTech is to fix all these problems with more BigTech.


It's interesting that french employees working for american company was fired for complaining (or boycotting) about said company on website which belongs to another american company.

Sign of the times...


Amazon didn't kill bookstores - people could have continued to shop in bookstores all they want. Amazon doesn't force anybody to not go to a bookstore.

There are actually still bookstores and other stores around to this day, in most regions.

As for taxes, that is another debate, but I don't see how Amazon paying more taxes would prevent people from working for Amazon?


I don't know the specific story in France, but it seems reasonable that paying less in taxes confers a significant competitive advantage.


Don't smaller businesses also pay less taxes to begin with? Not sure how it works, especially in France.

Even small businesses may have several ways of reducing taxes?

What is the minimum income for considering the "What is the Double Irish With A Dutch Sandwich" or whatever is the tax avoidance hype of the day?


If only everyone in the HN were able to read/speak french.


Seriously? Browsers will offer to translate it for you.


It will not be a correct translation unfortunately, as discussed in the a parent comment above, the even the title seems to be not translated correctly.


Relying on browser translation will make you sound or what you read unnatural in a lot of languages


Amazon will lash out at labor where possible. If there is some legal basis for it in France, they will claim that as cover. Pretending that this is some principled legal stance is naive.

It's an exercise of power that all of you should hope is never directed at you because, as this story illustrates, you will lose.

The thing I find amazing is how so many people who aren't, and will never be, a part of the capitalist class actually see themselves as part of it. It's interesting.


I find amazing is how so many people who aren't, and will never be, a part of the capitalist class actually see themselves as part of it.

it has puzzled me for years too. Jacques Ellul sheds some light on this in "The Technological Society". If you consider reading it then it helps to have read Charles Dickens "Hard Times" to get a feel of what he talks about when speaking of the displacement of peasant communities in Victorian times. We see the same thing in China (and every "emerging economy") and seem to accept it (maybe due to our incredible ability to engage in "doublethink") as just being the normal part of "progress".


The yellow vest movement has been tragically under-covered by the US media. Perhaps they don't want the proles in the US to get any ideas...


If anything it’s been overhyped. It’s a smallish tax protest. The Irish water tariff protests a few years back were larger, for a much smaller country, and got very little international coverage, say.


Your statement is not supported by reality. As even a cursory web search easily shows.


From an ironic American perspective, it seems the Irish have a warped perspective of what's "smallish."


Americans actually have something to protest about, French is comparatively speaking a social mecca. I am missing out any sort of realism from these yellow vests. Climate change is coming, organizing months of protests about your car fuel costs is shortsighted to say the least.


The way I understood it, the problem is not the fuel costs, it's only a small part of the problem. Prices are rising and wages are not, so people are struggling more and more to get by, and they feel it's about enough now.


> I am missing out any sort of realism from these yellow vests. Climate change is coming, organizing months of protests about your car fuel costs is shortsighted to say the least.

It's not about the car fuel costs per se, it's the feeling that the poorer parts of the population will have to bear the brunt of the cost of climate change while at the same time the richer parts enjoy massive tax breaks. People in France protest against the social injustice, the fuel tax was just the thing that blew the trigger on months of brewing frustration.


Hello, I am french and I continuously have to repeat that he situation has nothing to do with climate.

Long post warning, TL;DR at the bottom.

While it first started because of a tax on gas, it's not the tax per se that lead to the protest, but the fact that this tax was put in place to compensate the elimination of a tax on "fortune".

The whole protest is now kind of a clusterfuck of demands, but most of them are around 2 themes : - Fiscal injustice - Our model of democracy

Fiscal injustice: Pretty much every french feels like the high level of taxes we pay does not end up where we want nor where it is useful. It is not really that we want less taxes, but that we want them used intelligently. Our education system gets worse and worse every year because of budget cuts. Our healthcare system gets worse and worse every year because of budget cuts. Our justice system gets worse and worse every year because of budget cuts. Our retirement and social protection in global get worse and worse because of budget cuts.

Meanwhile, we get more taxes but nobody can really see where it goes.

On top of that, our government privatize what was once the best services that could show to the world. We had world class train infrastructure at a low price. That didn't go well because of budget cuts that lead to reduction of maintenance, that lead to the classic late trains that we are now famous for. Our small train lines are getting abandoned, leading to whole part of the territory being cut out of the rest of France (in a railway point of view). Our petrol foraging was state based and profitable, so was our electricity infrastructure management and production, engineering and such. Everything is getting sold for quick cash, when it was either profitable or at least a public service that was in a natural monopoly that will never be correctly managed under private ownership. The most famous example are our highways. State funded, then the exploitation was privatized. It's now expensive as hell, generates 60% of profit that ends up in the pocket of private companies instead of the state.

On top of this kind of economical ultra-liberalism that we're all culturally against pretty much in France, and empirically against if I can say, we have an ideological problem with the decisions that he government takes since decades. To make it short, it's always gifts to public companies or ultra-rich people, while continuing piling up taxes on the poor. Macron, because it's pretty recent, gave what was called the CICE to french companies, that cost around 60 Billions to the economy, at the condition that they were going to use it by job creation, and overall "trickling it down". The president of the french corporate lobby was fiercely wearing "1 million jobs" badge during the different discussions, because he promised 1 million new jobs at the end of the CICE. The last studies showed that the actual result of the CICE was a creation of between 0 and 250 000 jobs, and that's the generous margin.

While I could continue examples of stupid economic politics in favor of a few loaded people, I'll stop this example here to go on another rant concerning our democratic system.

French democratic system is representative. That means that people vote for other people to represent them in the government. And don't really take parts themselves in the democratic process. Experience has shown that this was indeed an aristocracy, since all representatives don't come from the people, because campaigning for a place in parliament is expensive, and you also need a network and friends in high places, so most of them come from the same class.

That leads to people taking decisions that are completely ignoring real life of common people, not measuring any impact, while also generously serving their own personal interests. A whole lot of corruption keeps getting revealed day after day, since decades, and people can't really do anything about. Even in good faith, these people didn't evolve in their life with "normal" people. They stayed in their own social class, and can't relate to the life of people living with minimal wage, or living in the countryside, or just having a normal job having a median pay. They are part, for most of them, of the 1%, and can't really realize what normal people go through because they're the product of their environment.

We also have a president that has a strong role in the politic of our country. The election system that we have is, in my opinion, one of the worse. It has 2 elections, a first one where you vote for the candidate you feel the closest to, and a second one that plays between the 2 most voted of the first vote. Let's be honest, while it's not as bad as the bipartisan system that the US has, it's not that far off. You get spread votes in the first vote, usually best you can get is 25% of votes in first turn, which is what happened in our last elections. We had 4 to 5 candidates with really close results in term of votes. Second elections, you get Macron vs Le Pen which is the far right leader in french politics. People, in France, pretty much never vote "for" a candidate in the second election, but "against" one. In this case, most people voted against the extreme right, but not really because they liked Macron.

So now we get a president that something around 25% of voters wanted (abstention because people don't really believe in our system is kind of high also), and that is also applying a program that is far much on the right side of the compromise he was publicly announcing that he was going to make.

People feel betrayed, feel that their opinion don't matter, and feel that the people that can change that have a conflict of interest in changing these matters. This is why it is the 12th week that people are in the street. This is also why most protester are also converging towards a common cause: the RIC (Citizen Initiative Referendum), that could make citizens able to propose laws, abrogate laws, revoke politicians or modify our constitution. All changes that people want could be proposed using this new tool, which is why a change in our system is now the first thing that people request during the protest.

I won't talk about he media propaganda around this event, or the repression of the protests in this post becuase this is yet another sensitive subject, but I wanted to provide at least a bit more context.

TL;DR : No, this is not about gas price. This is about fiscal injustice, and a poor representation of the interest of the citizens in our current political system and/or corruption. Also Macron keeps insulting the common people so that doesn't help I guess.


Thank you for writing all that out. It gives an insight that's never made it to the UK media, despite them explaining it wasn't just about fuel, and giving hints of the deeper issues.

It's surprisingly good match with the things we in the UK are pissed at with regard to politics, politicians, neoliberalism, fairness etc. Even partially explained Brexit (people in the regions that didn't benefit from London's constant rise felt betrayed, neglected and their opinion didn't matter). I'm disappointed we don't protest as well as our neighbours. ;)


First, I want to say that I'm trying really hard to stay factual and not inject my own opinion in these posts as I think it's not serving the right goal, as far as informing goes. Some of this can still be opinionated, because I'm only human, so keep that in mind.

My post is just a small part of the issues that are arising here, but yes, it is what we see pretty much everywhere.

UK first with Brexit, which followed the same schema from what I could gather, where everyone and especially the media were focusing on the immigration issue when it was barely part of the demands, and the real problem was people feeling like spectators of a game that corrupt politics are playing with the industries and lobbies to serve their own interests, while the price is paid by the common people.

We see that these kind of protests are arising everywhere in Europe, for example in UK, France, Hungary, Romania, Italy, Spain and it seems that Portugal too (?).

That's a reaction to a global reject of the neo/ultraliberalism and globalization in my opinion. There is also a more and more common reject of "Europe" as its current state, feeling that it is far too intruding into the legislative aspect of member countries, and pushing an agenda that more people don't adhere to.

This is why I think that we're seeing more and more eurosceptic movements rising, and why they become more popular with time. We're already not happy with our governments, and on top of that we have to apply laws and directives that are coming from people we didn't even vote for and that are superseding our own laws. I understand that it can be seen as a direct affront on democracy.

In my opinion (this time), this is nothing more than another class fight, where the common people are rebelling against people that own most of the money, most of the companies, and most of the power. This time, because of globalization, it tends to get a bit more international, so we'll see how it goes.


This is why keeping your political and professional life separate is important. Speaking out against your employer is juvenile, although if they hadn't spoken out against their employer it's more of a grey area - but having a high paying tech job is not a right it's a privilege.


> Speaking out against your employer is juvenile

Why?


Doing this and not expecting to get fired is idiotic... Seems rhetorical to me...

A tech job isn't a right it's a privilege. Plenty of other people would love to have a tech job at <insert big tech co. here> and have enough sense to not tweet "fuck <insert big tech co. here> on twitter...


I asked why speaking out against your employer was juvenile.

I didn't ask why expecting not to get fired for it was not juvenile (though it is and the law protects me from stupid reactionary shit like that in my country).


> high paying tech job

Employees in Amazon warehouses are not highly paid and don't even have a "tech job". They're paid minimum wage for a physically demanding job.


In my country you are by law required to be loyal to your company even if its doing illegal or unfair things, even after you quit. So if you just get fired and not get sued for damages that would be considered a good result here. And I live in a country with relatively good employee laws.


> by law required to be loyal to your company even if its doing illegal or unfair things > And I live in a country with relatively good employee laws.

No, you don't. These two quotes cannot be true at the same time, especially for the illegal part.


welcome to the real world, bro.


Tell us what fictional country you originate from where the law dictates that you must aid and abet breaking of the law by a current or previous employer.


What country is this?!




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