Elderly ignored again
The week's news at a glance.
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 days 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.