The French are going on strike less and less (not fake news)

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Oliver Gee - [email protected]
The French are going on strike less and less (not fake news)
Striking employees of the My Ferry Link in a previous strike. Photo: AFP

While 2016 saw some global headline making industrial action in France, there was actually a big drop in the number of strike days across the country, according to fresh figures from a strike monitoring website.


One of the worst feelings in France is getting hit by an unexpected strike, whether it's by pilots, train drivers, taxi drivers, or garbage collectors.
But the French are big fans of such industrial action - and the figures are in to prove it. 
Last year saw a total of 801 strikes - or 2.2 a day on average - according to the site, which records the nation's industrial action in real time. 
These consisted of mostly regional affairs, although there were 110 national strikes and 13 general strikes. 
While the total number of strikes dropped from 966 the year before, you'd be forgiven for thinking that 2016 was absolutely rammed with industrial action. 

And you're not wrong. Indeed, the 13 general strikes in 2016 are a far cry more than the three in 2015. 
Yes, who can forget the labour law protests in spring last year that led to strikes left, right, and centre - and eventually prompted a petrol shortage across the nation?
There was also the Air France pilot strike that came at the same time as France hosted the Euro football tournament, and the Eiffel Tower closure at the end of the year, both of which had tourists panicking. 
Indeed, at one point last spring, there were ongoing strikes on the Paris transport system, among air traffic controllers, national rail services, Air France, and Orly airport.
Indeed, March was one of the most popular months for strikers, together with February, September and December (see graph below), the strike-monitoring site revealed on Tuesday. 
The least popular time to strike was in July and August, it said, when a large proportion of the French take an extended break and head on holiday. 
Most strikes were in Seine-Saint-Denis, in the northern suburbs of Paris, which had 39 alone. Haute-Garonne, the department with Toulouse, had 36, while Paris hosted 34. 
Industrial action was most commonly occurring in the public sector, followed by the transport sector, then private and education and culture sectors.
The services most affected by the strikes, according to the site, were health, followed by  the national railway system SNCF, industry,transport, and postal. 
The C'est La Greve website tracks strikes that are ongoing across France, as well as any that are scheduled to crop up in the future.
A spokesperson from the site said that it had no union or political ties, but merely wanted to help the rest of the country to stay ahead of the game. 
"Like many fellow citizens, I hate to find out about a strike too late and always want to avoid any nasty surprises," said Bertrand Lambert.
He added that working on the site had taught him to see strikes in a different light.  
"When I started this site a few years ago, I had the same view as many French people - that strikes go hand in hand with disruptions for the rest of us," he told The Local on Tuesday. 
"But as I continued, I realized that workers are ready to lose days of work, even weeks of salary to hold these strikes (strikers are unpaid), and it's because they think their demands are worth it. They're not doing it for fun."
So what are we in for this year?
It's early days as yet, but the 2017 calendar is already filling up with action from all corners of the country. 
The calendar below gives a taste of the strike climate in France this week. In the interest of saving space, it has been cropped short - the full calendar for this week continues far longer. 
Tuesday the 17th alone has 16 strikes, ranging from tram workers in Brittany, firefighters in Charente, and a hospital in Pontoise.  
Click here to see the full site and to stay ahead of the striking workers this year. And click here to read why French workers seem to always be on strike. 



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