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French lorry drivers announce road blocks in fuel tax protest

Getting around France in December was already going to be tricky with unlimited strikes affecting public transport, but now lorry drivers have announced that they will also be staging road blocks.

French lorry drivers announce road blocks in fuel tax protest
Photo: AFP

The hauliers group Organisation des Transporteurs Routiers Européens has announced that its members will be staging protests including road blocks across France from Saturday, December 7th.

Lorry drivers are angry about a two cent increase in diesel tax and say their protest will start on Saturday, but could be going on for an unspecified number of days.

READ ALSO Flights, trains and buses – your questions answered on December strikes

Their protest is not linked to the unlimited strikes that are hitting France from December 5th – those are over plans to reform the pension system – but will coincide with what is expected to be a very difficult weekend for transport as rail employees, Metro drivers, bus drivers, airline ground crew and air traffic controllers all walk out.

The group's press release says that: “Tired of not feeling defended and heard, road transport companies will express in the street the legitimate anger of the profession.”

The protests will be “from December 7th and the following days”.

The strike action could also lead to some disruption on the roads as one of the hauliers unions is involved and 'yellow vest' protesters have said they will be staging a day of action. Nothing has been specified yet, but in the past motorway toll booths have been a frequent target for 'yellow vest' demonstrations.

READ ALSO 'Unlimited' December strikes in France: What you need to know

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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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