For members


Nationwide strikes in France: Who is joining in and what are their grievances?

The 'unlimited' strikes in France starting from December 5th is shaping up to be a major confrontation as more and more unions announce they are joining. We take a look at who is involved.

Nationwide strikes in France: Who is joining in and what are their grievances?
The December strike is shaping up to be a major confrontation. Photos: AFP

The protest is over plans to reform the French pension system. This obviously affects everyone in France, but the people who feel they have most to lose are public sector workers, many of whom stand to lose the 'special regimes' they have negotiated over the years which give them higher pensions and the right to retire early.

READ ALSO 'Unlimited' December strikes in France, what you need to know

The strike starts on December 5th and while some unions are aiming for a one-day action, others say they will be taking 'unlimited' action throughout December, so the disruption could continue for some weeks. It's even being reported that French president Emmanuel Macron has rescheduled several foreign trips he had planned for December in order to be here and deal with any potential trouble.

Here are the groups that have signed up to far:

Rail workers

The four main rail unions have all signed up, meaning the majority of the rail network across France will be affected by the strike action. Their strike announcements give notice of 'renewable' strikes which could go on beyond December 5th.

At the stage it's not possible to say how much this will disrupt services, except to say it will be significant. SNCF says it will be able to publish revised strike timetables, showing how many services will run, on December 3rd.

Paris public transport workers

The six unions that represent employees of RATP – which runs the Paris Metro, bus, tram and RER network – have all signed up to renewable strike action. These same six staged a one-day strike in September that brought the city's public transport to a virtual standstill.

READ ALSO France's December strikes 'Expect major disruption that could last until the New Year'

Other cities' public transport workers

The CGT and FO unions which represent public transport drivers across France have given notice of strike action in Lyon, Montpellier and Bordeaux, and it is expected more will follow. 

Air France ground crew

One union representing ground crew – FO Air France – has joined unlimited strike action. The other main union for Air France ground crew – CGT Air France – has so far not issued a strike notice, but CGT members in other industries have joined, so it is expected that their ground crew will follow suit. Several airports are expected to experience delayed or cancelled flights.


FO Transports et Logistique, which represents some truck drivers – has joined the strike. They don't represent all hauliers by any means, but when French hauliers strike they frequently stage blockades or rolling roadblocks, so there may well be some disruption on the roads.


The two biggest teaching unions have both joined the strike, with one telling The Local they will “stay on the streets if necessary” after December 5th to continue their protest. This will obviously be disruptive to education and could lead to some parents being forcd to find alternative childcare arrangements. Some French schools offer a daycare service – with no teaching – when teachers are on strike, but not all have the staffing levels to be able to do so and so close altogether.

Civil Servants

The FSU union representing civil servants has joined the strike, although they do not represent all fonctionnaires. Expect some government offices to be closed and others to be operating with a reduced staffing level on December 5th. Some lawyers and judges will also be joining in, plus employees of the electricity company EDF.


As well as people staging walk-outs from their work, there will also be several protests on December 5th, some from employees who are barred from striking but want to make their feelings known.


Most types of French police officers are not allowed to strike, but the several police unions including Alliance and Unsa have said they will join the action on December 5th, which is likely to involve staging demonstrations at police stations.

Hospital staff

Also banned from striking are emergency medical staff, but unions representing them say their members will be “on the streets” on December 5th, which will likely involve protests and demonstrations from off-duty medical staff.

They are already involved in an ongoing dispute with the government over pay and working conditions.

Yellow vests

Some yellow vest leaders say they plan to join in the “day of anger” on December 5th and will stage demonstrations. Exactly what impact this will have is hard to say as the numbers turning out on 'yellow vest' protests have been dwindling sharply in recent months, but if some of the radical elements who joined in demonstrations on the anniversary weekend of November 17th turn up then there could be violent scenes.

What are their grievances?

The strike is over French president Emmanuel Macron's plans to reform the French pension system.

The current system has 42 different pension regimes and Macron wants to simplify it to create one single, universal system that applies to both public and private sector workers.

READ ALSO ANALYSIS What you need to know to understand why pension reform sells trouble in France

This would do away with many of the 'special regimes' that public sector workers enjoy, which give them enhanced pensions and extra rights such as the right to retire earlier than the French legal retirement age of 62.

Many public sector workers consider their generous pensions as recompense for the lower salaries than those on offer in the private sector. The regimes have also been negotiated over the years to compensate for anti-social working conditions such as shift work or – for example in the case of Metro drivers who can retire at 55 – working in polluted or uncomfortable conditions.

Some of the workers have other grievances as well, for example teachers have long complained about their low pay when compared with European counterparts and hospital and police staff have reported very difficult working conditions and low morale.


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For members


What changes in France in July 2022

Summer's here and the time is right for national celebrations, traffic jams, strikes, Paris beaches, and ... changing the rules for new boilers.

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer holidays

The holiday season in France officially begins on Thursday, July 7th, as this is the date when school’s out for the summer. The weekend immediately after the end of the school year is expected to be a busy one on the roads and the railways as families start heading off on vacation.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer


But it wouldn’t really be summer in France without a few strikes – airport employees at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will walk out on July 1st, while SNCF rail staff will strike on July 6th. Meanwhile Ryanair employees at Paris, Marseille and Toulouse airports will strike on yet-to-be-confirmed dates in July.

READ ALSO How strikes and staff shortages will affect summer in France

Parliamentary fireworks?

Prime minister Elisabeth Borne will present the government’s new programme in parliament on July 5th – this is expected to be a tricky day for the Macron government, not only does it not have the parliamentary majority that it needs to pass legislation like the new package of financial aid to help householders deal with the cost-of-living crisis, but opposition parties have indicated that they will table a motion of no confidence against Borne.

Parliament usually breaks for the summer at the end of July, but a special extended session to allow legislation to be passed means that MPs won’t get to go on holiday until at least August 9th. 

Fête nationale

July 14th is a public holiday in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille which was the symbolic start of the French Revolution. As usual, towns and cities will host parades and fireworks – with the biggest military parade taking place on the Champs-Elysées in Paris – and many stores will remain closed.

As the national holiday falls on a Thursday this year, many French workers will take the opportunity to faire le pont.

Festival season really kicks in

You know summer’s here when France gets festival fever, with events in towns and cities across the country. You can find our pick of the summer celebrations here.

Paris Plages

The capital’s popular urban beaches return on July 9th on the banks of the Seine and beside the Bassin de la Villette in northern Paris, bringing taste of the seaside to the capital with swimming spots, desk chairs, beach games and entertainment.  

Summer sales end 

Summer sales across most of the country end on July 19th – unless you live in Alpes-Maritimes, when they run from July 6th to August 2nd, or the island of Corsica (July 13th to August 9th).

Tour de France

The Tour de France cycle race sets off on July 1st from Copenhagen and finishes up on the Champs-Elysée in Paris on July 24th.

New boilers

From July 1st, 2022, new equipment installed for heating or hot water in residential or professional buildings, must comply with a greenhouse gas emissions ceiling of 300 gCO2eq/KWh PCI. 

That’s a technical way of saying oil or coal-fired boilers can no longer be installed. Nor can any other type of boiler that exceeds the ceiling.

As per a decree published in the Journal Officiel in January, existing appliances can continue to be used, maintained and repaired, but financial aid of up to €11,000 is planned to encourage their replacement. 

Bike helmets

New standards for motorbike helmets come into effect from July 1st. Riders do not need to change their current helmets, but the “ECE 22.05” standard can no longer be issued – and all helmets sold must adhere to a new, more stringent “ECE 22.06” standards from July 2024

New cars

From July 6th new car models must be equipped with a black box that record driving parameters such as speed, acceleration or braking phases, wearing (or not) of a seat belt, indicator use, the force of the collision or engine speed, in case of accidents.

New cars II

From July 1st, the ecological bonus for anyone who buys an electric vehicle drops by €1,000, while rechargeable hybrids will be excluded from the aid system, “which will be reserved for electric vehicles whose CO2 emission rate is less than or equal to 20g/km”.

What’s in a name?

Historically, the French have been quite restrictive on the use of family names – remember the concern over the use of birth names on Covid vaccine documents? – but it becomes easier for an adult to choose to bear the name of his mother, his father, or both by a simple declaration to the civil status. All you have to do is declare your choice by form at the town hall of your home or place of birth.

Eco loans

In concert with the new boiler rules, a zero-interest loan of up to €30,000 to finance energy-saving renovations can be combined with MaPrimeRénov’, a subsidy for financing the same work, under certain conditions, from July 1st.

Rent rules

Non-professional private landlords advertising properties for rent must, from July 1st, include specific information about the property on the ad, including the size of the property in square metres, the area of town in which the property is in, the monthly rent and any supplements, whether the property is in a rent-control area, and the security deposit required. Further information, including the full list of requirements for any ad, is available here.

Perfume ban

More perfumes are to be added to a banned list for products used by children, such as soap-making kits, cosmetic sets, shampoos, or sweet-making games, or toys that have an aroma.

Atranol, chloroatranol (extracts of oak moss containing tannins), and methyl carbonate heptin, which smells like violets, will be banned from July 5th, because of their possible allergenic effects.

Furthermore, 71 new allergenic fragrances – including camphor, menthol, vanilin, eucalyptus spp. leaf oil, rose flower oil, lavendula officinalis, turpentine – will be added to the list of ingredients that must be clearly indicated on a toy or on an attached label.

Ticket resto limits

The increased ticket resto limit ended on June 30th, so from July 1st employees who receive the restaurant vouchers will once again be limited to spending €19 per day in restaurants, cafés and bars. The limit was increased to €38 during the pandemic, when workers were working from home.