Robin Hood may be a story of English folklore, but French energy workers on strike are taking the moral of the story literally, giving away free power to those in need.
As a form of protest against the French government raising the retirement age, the workers have provided free gas and electricity to schools, daycare centres, libraries, hospitals and low-income houses that have been cut off from power.
The operation is named ‘Robin des Bois, and like the legend of Robin Hood, the workers want to address the balance of power, by giving energy from the rich, and transferring it to the poor.
“[It’s about] returning energy to those who don’t have it at all because they can’t afford to, and making it free for hospitals and schools,” says Philippe Martinez, the secretary-general of the CGT, one of the largest confederations of trade unions in France.
Although most protests involve picketing, the French energy workers wanted to protest in a way that helped others. This comes on the back of announcements that the cost-of-living will increase in Europe, with energy prices set to increase by 15% in France in 2023.
“The point of today’s protests is to show that the balance of power is moving up a notch,” says Gwenaël Plagne, the CGT representative at a thermal power plant in Cordemais, western France.