French GPs urged to strike over Christmas

You might have more reason than ever not to fall sick over Christmas if you're in France this year. GPs are being urged by unions to shut up their surgeries over the Christmas period in protest against a new government health bill.

French GPs urged to strike over Christmas
Don't be ill over Christmas in France. Stethoscope photo: Shutterstock

If you’re planning to spending your Christmas holidays in France you’d be advised to take extra care of yourself, as the doors of your local doctors’ surgery may well be closed.

The French doctors union UNOF-CSMF on Monday called all French GPs to go on strike between December 24th and 31st this year in protest against a new health bill announced over the weekend, L'Express reported.

Another doctors union, MG France, has called for strike action on January 6th – a traditional public holiday.

Presented on Saturday by French Health Minister Marisol Touraine, the bill includes a raft of measures including the establishment of a territorial public health department controlled by regional health authorities (ARS).

Another controversial measure includes the capping of the consultation fee which has stayed at €23 since 2011, which the union describes as “unworthy of the required skills and insufficient”.

Under the new law, pharmacists would also be given the authority to carry out certain vaccinations on patients. 

“For months there have been different measures ignoring the reality of the overall care and quality of the patient by their GP,” the UNOF-CSMF union was quoted as saying by L’Express.

The union is now asking the government to open negotiations.

SEE ALSO: Five key reforms of France's healthcare bill

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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.