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STRIKES

French transport strikes enter crucial week with slight improvement in Monday services

As French transport strikes entered a crucial week on Monday, Paris residents and train passengers are seeing some improvement after a badly disrupted weekend. Tuesday looks like being a day of reckoning between the government and the unions with more protests planned.

French transport strikes enter crucial week with slight improvement in Monday services
Eight Metro lines remain closed. Photo: AFP

The mass transport strikes over pension reform show no sign of being speedily resolved, and instead discussions have moved on to whether unions would be willing to declare a 'Christmas truce' to allow people to visit family and friends over the holidays.

READ ALSO Will French trains be running by Christmas?

The French government last week unveiled more details of its proposed reform of the country's pension system, which would create a single universal system for everyone, to replace the current system of having 42 different regimes.

The government says its proposals would create a more fair ans transparent system, but unions fear that French people will end up working longer, and some will lose out on their pension pots.

Although some discussions have been held, both sides are at present holding firm on their positions.

Tuesday will be the next mass day of general strikes and street protests with both the government and unions keeping a close eye on the turn-out. Unions will be a hoping a repeat of the 800,000 who marched on December 5th – the first day of strikes whereas the government will be hoping for a huge drop in turn-out, which they will see as a sign of weakening support for the strikes.

But after a badly disrupted weekend with very few services running – especially on Sunday – Paris residents have seen some improvement on Monday.

The city's RATP transport network has been sacrificing weekend services in order to concentrate its resources on getting commuters to work and back.

 

On the Metro lines 1 and 14 – which are automated – are running as normal. Six other lines – 3, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 11 – are running a limited service during rush hour only and the remaining eight lines are running at all.

On the tram, Lines 5 and 7 are running as normal and lines 2, 6 and 8 are running all day, but with fewer services than normal. Lines 1 and 3a are running limited services during rush hour only and Line 3b is running only in the afternoon.

On the RER there are limited services running during rush hour only and about 50 percent of the normal bus services are running.

On the railways there is a slight improvement with 30 percent of the high speed TGV services running – up from 25 percent last week – but still only one in six Intercité services and four in 10 local TER services – with many of those being bus replacement services.

 

Flights to, from and over France are running as normal, but if you're flying in to Paris, bear in mind that connection services between the city and the airport are badly disrupted, so you would be wise to book in advance either one of the Paris Airport private bus services or a taxi or car service.

 

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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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