French rail workers voted to return to work Friday after a 22-day strike that shut down public transportation across the country and imperiled the government of Prime Minister Alain Juppe.
The decision by the rail workers to end their walkout against the government’s plans to overhaul the country’s generous welfare system was hailed by union leaders as a classic triumph of worker solidarity over the arrogance of the ruling class.
The government, too, claimed success in preserving the core of its austerity program aimed at slashing France’s $65 billion budget deficit over the next two years.
But sheer fatigue on all sides in coping with the inconveniences of the country’s worst industrial disruption since 1986 may have provided the greatest impetus toward a return to normalcy.
With the Christmas holidays approaching, rail workers were eager to start receiving paychecks again. The government desperately wanted to prevent further damage to the economy. And the public was exhausted.