Thousands of children will have the day off on Tuesday as teachers across France take strike action to protest against job cuts.

"/> Thousands of children will have the day off on Tuesday as teachers across France take strike action to protest against job cuts.

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TEACHERS

Schools shut as teachers stage mass walk-out

Thousands of children will have the day off on Tuesday as teachers across France take strike action to protest against job cuts.

For the first time, teachers from the private sector will join their public sector counterparts in the action, which will include over 100 demonstrations across the country, including one through central Paris.

Teachers are campaigning against annual reductions in the number of teaching posts, which amount to 65,400 since 2007, according to newspaper Libération, with a further 14,000 planned for 2012.

Teaching unions wanted to “deliver a strong message that education should be at the heart of this country’s priorities”, said Sébastien Sihr of the SNUIPP-FSU union, quoted in Le Monde.

“The policy of not replacing one out of every two teachers who retire is a dead-end. Worse, it widens the educational inequality already deeply rooted in our country,” said the union in a statement.

Unions believe that 54 percent of primary school teachers will stay away from school on Tuesday. The education ministry claimed it believed only 20.5 percent would take action.

Primary school teaching staff are required to declare if they are going to be on strike 48 hours in advance. The union believes at least 90 schools in Paris alone will be forced to close for the day.

Education minister Luc Chatel appeared to shrug off the remarks, suggesting the strikes might be motivated by elections that will take place in October to select teaching representatives on key administrative bodies. 

“An education strike at the end of September is not really revolutionary,” he said, according to Le Monde.

Chatel also stuck to his guns over the cut in posts, saying “the real question today is personalized” teaching, rather than “quantity.”

“We won’t be able to deliver quality if we don’t have trained people in sufficient numbers,” retorted Bernadette Groison of the FSU union.

Teachers in private schools will be joining the strikers for the first time to protest against job cuts. Around 15 percent of French children attend private schools.

Teachers in France are poorly paid compared to their European counterparts. An OECD study found that the average salary for a teacher with fifteen years’ experience in France is €35,856 ($48,540) compared with €62,930 in Germany and €47,047 in the UK.

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STRIKES

French customs officers strike over job cuts

Customs officers across France will walk out on Thursday in protest at job cuts that unions say will “weaken the customs network”.

French customs officers strike over job cuts

The national strike on Thursday, March 10th is expected to lead to delays at ports, airports and on the Eurostar.

The strike, which will include a rally outside the National Assembly building in Paris, was called by the CFDT-Douane and has the support of other unions. 

A work-to-rule protest over pay and conditions by customs officers in 2019, under the shadow of Brexit, led to delays and disruption at airports, as well as ports including Calais and Dunkirk, and on Eurostar trains.

Unions are calling on the government to axe plans to switch responsibility for import duty collection to the Direction Générale des Finances Publiques by 2024, at the cost of 700 customs’ officer jobs – and, according to strikers, tens of billions of euros to State coffers.

“We are asking for the reforms to be stopped, mainly that of the transfer of taxation, which is disorganising the network with the elimination of nearly a thousand jobs,” CFDT-Douane’s secretary general David-Olivier Caron said.

The planned job cuts come after years of restructuring and streamlining that has seen thousands of positions disappear, the unions say, when customs fraud and smuggling is rising because of a lack of resources.

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