French workers staging fewer strikes but...

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French workers staging fewer strikes but...
Photo: AFP

France may have an unfair reputation for being a nation permanently on strike but a new survey shows the number of walk-outs is actually decreasing. It's not all good news though.


The survey from the Ministry of Labour shows there is less industrial action that at any time since the beginning the financial crisis in 2008.

Despite pay freezes and job losses linked to the crisis, only 1.2 percent of private companies (with over 10 employees) were hit by strikes or walk-outs in the year 2013 – the most recent year for which figures are available.

In 2012, the figure was 1.3 percent of companies and in 2010 this was 3.3 percent, which was the year when controversial pension reforms were passed through parliament sparking huge nationwide protests.

On the down side….

However the figures also show that the industrial action is becoming more intense and lasting for longer periods.

From 2012 to 2013 the number of days lost to strikes per 1,000 workers went up from 60 to 79, a sign according to the Ministry of Labour, that strikes are becoming longer and involving more workers.

in 2015 France saw its fair share of strikes and industrial action, most notably from ferry workers who blockaded the port of Calais as well as the entrance to the Channel Tunnel in the summer.

There was also strikes by doctors, hospital workers, farmers, teachers, rubbish collectors and most famously Air France workers whose protest ended with two company execs fleeing half naked.

Photo: AFP

There was also a crippling air traffic control strike earlier in the year that left thousands stranded around Europe, and French public radio workers got in on the act, walking out for weeks.

So the stats may yet change for the worse.

The main motivation for holding industrial actin continues to be wages as well as working hours.

Almost half of the strikes were within the framework of national issues with unions often calling on workers to down tools.



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