Feature

Elderly ignored again

The week's news at a glance.

Paris

French people stayed home in overwhelming numbers on Pentecost Monday this week, in defiance of what was supposed to be a “day of solidarity” for the elderly. The Monday after the Christian festival of Pentecost has traditionally been a national holiday in France. But this year, the government asked the French to work without pay, with employers putting the day’s wages into a fund to buy air conditioners for nursing homes. The measure was intended to prevent a catastrophe like the one that occurred in the summer of 2003, when some 15,000 elderly people, abandoned by vacationing relatives, died in a heat wave. The day of unpaid work proved unpopular, however, with more than half of all workers staying home.

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