Three more weeks of internship, and I’ll be done! Recently it’s been crazy in the newsroom. Lately, we’ve had a strike in my region, and it’s been going on for a while: 48 days tomorrow, and that’s the longest strike we’ve ever had. The local Bridgestone factory is in a little town called Frameries, and is specialized in the making of airplane tires. They started the strike because 8 of them were fired for no reason, despite the fact that the factory is making millions of Euros of profits. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it in the past, but the part of Belgium I’m in right now is one of the poorest in Europe. So there are about 140 workers on strike, and if the factory closes it could be really, really bad for the region… Especially with the financial crisis! Everybody is following closely the evolution of the conflict, as you can imagine!
Anyway, at the newspaper they’ve put me in charge of following the issue (since the journalist who was doing it is on vacation). Every day, I have to call the representatives of the workers and the managers of the factory to see what is going on. But it’s a ton of work. Last Thursday for example, Mr Clarinval, which is the local version of the CEO of that factory, made an offer to the workers. They had an assembly to discuss and vote on it, but it was at night in the backroom of a small bar. Nevertheless, I had to go. I stayed there three hours, waiting for the results. I have to say, it was amazing. I got to talk with the workers for a while. They finally rejected the proposition (69% against it, and in this case they needed a minimum of 66%, it was close!) and the strike is still going on. But that night, I had to go back to the office and write my article as fast as I could so that the news could be in the next day’s paper! My first social conflict, as my editor in chief told me.
Here is a picture of some of the strikers in front of the factory, I met them a few times.
Recently, the internship has gotten better. I think I’m getting a little more respect from my fellow journalists. I’m still the little intern I guess, but I think they’ve realized I’m working hard to help them. Only three weeks left… And then it’ll be pretty much time to go back to school! That’s it for today, have a great week!