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French taxi drivers stage Nice airport strike as Cannes film festival begins

French taxi drivers blocked Nice airport over a dispute with online ride-hailing services, snarling traffic for hours as film-makers and movie moguls tried to reach the nearby Cannes film festival.

French taxi drivers stage Nice airport strike as Cannes film festival begins
Illustration Photo: AFP

Traffic in and out of the airport's two terminals was disrupted and a woman taxi driver was knocked down, with the driver's union threatening to stage another blockade on Friday.

The injured driver was taken to hospital but told AFP no bones had been broken after she was hit by a rival working for a ride-hailing service.

But she is filing a complaint with police after being left “covered in bruises”. 

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A police source told AFP tensions between the rival drivers traditionally escalate ahead of the world's biggest film festival, which runs from May 14 to 26. 

“It's always the same during the Cannes festival, the taxis line up in front of the private hire cars and it becomes a game of cat-and-mouse, it's not a brawl but it can get really crowded and things can get out of hand,” he said. 

Fabrice Cavallera, who heads the Nice taxi drivers' union, said they suspended the protest mid-afternoon but would resume the strike on Friday if  the authorities did not impose restrictions on their ride-sharing rivals.

As part of an anti-fraud drive, taxi drivers have been faced with a series of impromptu checks, which they say private hire drivers have so far escaped. 

Police were called in to break up the protest. Some drivers said travellers were forced to walk part of the way to the airport in order to avoid missing 
their flight. 

May is a busy month for Nice's Cote d'Azur airport which sees a 15 percent increase in numbers due to the Cannes film festival and the Monaco Grand Prix. 

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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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