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STRIKES

French teachers to join transport workers in December strikes

French teachers have announced that they will be joining in the December 5th strike action in protest over reforms to the country's pension system.

French teachers to join transport workers in December strikes
The December strike is shaping up to be a major confrontation. Photo: AFP

The largest French teaching union the SNUipp-FSU told The Local that staff will be joining the walk-out on December 5th, and could even extend the strike to the 'unlimited' action proposed by employees including rail workers.

The December strike is shaping up to be a major confrontation between the government and unions, with railway workers, Metro drivers, bus drivers, hauliers, airline ground crew and postal workers all announcing that they will take co-ordinated action against plans to reform the French pension system.

READ ALSO 'Unlimited' December strikes – who is involved and what services will be affected

Teachers are the latest to announce they will walk out, with the SNUipp-FSU saying it is calling on its members to strike.

“It’s not something we do for fun. We would much rather be in class. But we don’t have a choice,” said Francette Popineu, Co-General Secretary and spokesman of the national teacher’s union SNUipp-FSU. 

“This is a monstrous reform, with no concern for the consequences it will have for those affected,” she told The Local.

Teachers are already struggling to get by with their current salaries and pensions in France, according to Popineau. She fears the new reform could push them into poverty.

French teachers earn less than many of their European colleagues, with the average teacher's salary in France working out at €30,350 a year pre tax, compared to a UK teacher on €36,247 or a German teacher on €48,571.

“Even Edouard Philippe [the French Prime Minister] has told us that he agrees: we are underpaid. The problem is that there’s no real plan,” Popineau said.

“Now we’re demanding that the government sits down and listens to what we have to say.”

The union has not yet decided whether or not they will continue the strike after December 5th.

“Obviously it’s a complicated situation for us seeing as we are responsible for the children, but we are hoping that the President will present a solution.

“But we are ready to stay on the streets if necessary,” Popineau said.

When French teachers strike, some schools provide a daycare facility with no teaching, but other parents will be faced with making their own childcare arrangements on December 5th and possibly beyond.

A second, smaller, teaching union SE-Unsa has already announced that its members will be joining the strike.

 

 

 

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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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