‘Black Friday’ warning over major strikes on Paris Metro and bus networks

Travellers in Paris are being warned of 'black Friday' on the city's transport system as major strike action is planned.

'Black Friday' warning over major strikes on Paris Metro and bus networks
Major disruptions are expected on the Metro on Friday. Photo: AFP

READ ALSO Metro chaos: All you need to know about the Paris public transport strikes

All of the unions on the Paris transport network have declared that they will be taking strike action on Friday in a protest over plans to reform the pension system.

RATP, which runs the Paris Metro, bus and RER suburban train network, has advised people not to travel on Friday unless absolutely necessary.

The company will release full details of the disruption to services later on Wednesday, but is already warning that the disruption is likely to be severe.

READ ALSO Macron's surprise idea for reforming the French pensions system


It is believed that some Metro lines will be closed completely, while others will operate a very limited service.

The RER suburban trains and the bus system will also be affected.

The strike action is expected to be particularly severe because all the unions that have members among the transport workers – CGT, UNSA, CFE-CGC, Sud, Solidaire and FO – are coordinating their action.

At present the advice from RATP is: “There will be very severe disruption on the transport network on Friday, September 13th. RATP invites passenger to keep their travel to a minimum.”

The strike is the first in a series of actions planned to protest against Emmanuel Macron's proposed reform of France's pensions system.

He wants to simplify the current system and standardise the pension regime, instead of the current system of 42 different regimes, and base retirement age on the number of years worked.

This will particularly affect transport workers, who at present enjoy a generous pension system and have certain exemptions for early retirement, such as Metro drives who can retire on full pensions at the age of 55.

Bertrand Hammache, General Secretary of CGT RATP union, told France 3: “The purpose of having a special [pension] regime is first of all to take into account the difficulty at work. The workers are confronted with night schedules, working in the underground and handling toxic products.”

He added: “We have many more strike declarations than usual. We have Metro lines that will be interrupted during off-peak hours in particular. We have not seen such an important mobilization in a long time.”

READ ALSO ANALYSIS: Buckle up for a rocky few weeks as France begins to reform pensions


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Striking workers block Paris airport terminal, flights delayed

Striking airport workers have blocked part Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, with some flights already delayed by at least one hour.

Striking workers block Paris airport terminal, flights delayed
Striking airport workers outside Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Paris. Photo: Geoffroy van der Hasselt | AFP

Last month, trade unions representing workers at the Aéroports de Paris (ADP) – the city’s Charles-de-Gaulle-Roissy and Orly airports – called for a strike between July 1st and July 5th in an ongoing dispute between French airport workers and bosses over contract renegotiations.

A second wave of protests are expected next week, after a strike notice was filed for July 9th.

Tensions mounted on Friday morning as some 400 protesters staged a raucous demonstration at CDG’s terminal 2E, which mostly deals with flights outside the Schengen zone, as police officers looked on.

At Orly airport, meanwhile, some 250 people demonstrated “outside”, while a small group was inside.

The dispute is over a long-term plan by ADP to bring in new work contracts for employees at the airports, which unions say will lower pay, job losses and a reduction in rights and bonuses for employees.

The strike is being jointly called by the CGT, CFE-CGE, Unsa, CFDT and FO unions, who said in a joint press release that the proposals will “definitively remove more than a month’s salary from all employees and force them to accept geographical mobility that will generate additional commuting time”.

Unions say that staff face dismissal if they do not sign the new contracts.

ADP said on Wednesday that it expected ‘slight delays for some flights but no cancellations’ to services – but it urged travellers to follow its social media operations for real-time updates.

On Thursday, the first day of action, 30 percent of flights were delayed between 15 minutes and half-an-hour.

ADP’s CEO Augustin de Romanet had said on Tuesday that ‘everything would be done to ensure no flight is cancelled’. 

ADP reported a loss of €1.17 billion in 2020. 

Stressing that discussions are continuing over the proposed new contracts, the CEO called for “an effort of solidarity, with a red line: no forced layoffs.”