French airports hit by nationwide strike

Air traffic in France will be cut by 20-30 percent nationwide on Tuesday due to an air traffic control strike that unions say is prompted by president François Hollande's signature jobs' creation policy initiative.

French airports hit by nationwide strike
Air traffic controllers said they will strike across France on Tuesday. Photo: Tab59/Flickr

Flights to and from major French cities were set to be disrupted on Tuesday due to a strike called by key unions against Hollande's proposal to cut business taxes to try and create jobs.

The country's DGAC civil aviation authority said airlines were reducing their flights into and out of Paris airports by 30 percent and those to and from the cities of Lyon, Marseille, Nice and Toulouse by 20 percent.

"Disruptions are expected throughout France," the DGAC said in a statement, pointing out that unions representing air traffic controllers had asked their members to go on strike as part of a wider call for all public sector employees to stop work.

Four unions are protesting against Hollande's "Responsibility Pact", which seeks to implement 30 billion euros ($42 billion) in cuts to payroll taxes and 50 billion euros in spending cuts over three years to kickstart growth and revitalise the eurozone's second economy.

The cuts to payroll taxes will be in return for companies pledging to create more jobs, but some unions in France are worried that firms will shirk this duty as they will not be legally obliged to hire people.

They are also worried that the massive spending cuts outlined in the pact will negatively impact the public sector.

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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.