French lorry drivers take action against government’s labour reforms

French lorry drivers opposing the government's reform of labour laws staged protests in Paris and across the country on Monday, ahead of more strikes next week.

French lorry drivers take action against government’s labour reforms
File photo: AFP

The CFDT and CFTC unions claim their industry will be hit by President Emmanuel Macron's controversial overhaul of the country's labour code.

The truck drivers fear the changes to labour laws will impact the small businesses that make up 75-80% of the profession by creating “unfair competition” between them, and reducing job security.

Monday's protests which included go-slows on motorways around France come ahead of a rolling strike by lorry drivers belonging to two other unions, the CGT and FO, that is due to begin on September 25th.

“This is a warning to the government. If we are not heard, we will not just stop here,” said Patrick Blaise, secretary-general of the French Democratic Federation of Labour (CFDT).

Monday's actions included:

  • Around 50 protesters set themselves up just south of Lyon at the Vienne-Reventin toll booth on the A7, handing out leaflets to drivers

  • Protesters also took action at the Saint-Avold toll booth on the A4 motorway in Moselle

  • A go-slow operation was put in place between Lille and Seclin, causing delays on the A1

  • A one-hour traffic jam resulted from blockades in both directions on the motorway between Paris and Strasbourg

The lorry driver unions were keen to reassure the public that their action was not meant to create traffic jams, but instead to “alert” workers and citizens to their cause.

But drivers could face more disruption with the CGT and FO unions set to hold more strikes next week.

Secretary-general of the CGT for transport, Jérôme Vérité, said the planned protest next week would “have very concrete consequences for the French economy”.

A group of representatives from the French Democratic Federation of Labour (CFDT) union will meet labour minister, Muriel Pénicaud, to discuss the reforms on Monday..