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New strikes hit flights and trains in Paris

The latest round of protests against labour laws in France will once again hit travellers in the French capital with flights cancelled or delayed and RER services cut.

New strikes hit flights and trains in Paris
RER B one of the train lines hit by Thursday's protests. All Photos: AFP

Air and rail transport in Paris was hit by cancellations and delays on Thursday after the CGT union called on members to join a walk-out in protest over the controversial planned labour reforms.

SNCF says 90 percent of rail services will operate as normal around the country on Thursday, just two days after a train strike saw rail services badly hit.

In Paris the main impact of the strike will be on the RER B line that serves both Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports.

Only 50 percent of services are running and passengers heading to Charles de Gaulle airport will have to change at Gare du Nord.

Metro, tram and RER A services will run “almost as normal”. 

International services like the Eurostar will be spared any disruption as will other RER lines.

In terms of air traffic, aviation authorities in France have told airlines at Paris Orly airport to cancel around 20 percent of their flights as air traffic controllers and other airport staff join the protests against labour reforms.

That means hundreds of flights will likely be cancelled at Orly airport, while aviation authorities from the DGAC are also warning of potential delays at the capital’s main airport Charles de Gaulle.

“At Roissy Charles de Gaulle there will very likely be delays but not cancellations,” said a spokesman from the DGAC.

In a statement released to the press the authorities are also warning about disruptions to flights throughout the whole country.

Passengers are advised to check with their airlines before travelling to the airport.

Thursday will once again see demonstrations against the labour reforms take place across the country, many of which have descended into violence in recent months.

The raft of changes are basically aimed at making it easier for companies to hire and fire workers and make rules around working hours less rigid.

However opponents argue that workers will be left worse off and in a more precarious situation. They argue it shouldn’t be workers who pay the price for high unemployment, but company chiefs and their profit margins.

The protests are being led by student and high school unions as well as leftist trade unions like the CGT and Force Ouvrier (FO).

Many of the workers at Orly airport are members of the CGT, hence the reason why Orly will be more hit than Charles de Gaulle airport, where the union has less of a presence.

 

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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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