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STRIKES

Injuries soar as Paris residents take to bikes during the strike

Thousands of Parisians have turned to bicycles and electric scooters to avoid the commuting chaos during a pensions strike, and many have the bruises and other injuries to prove it.

Injuries soar as Paris residents take to bikes during the strike
Photo: AFP

The city's firefighter brigades, the first responders in case of emergencies, have noted a nearly 40 percent surge in accidents since the public transport strike began on December 5th.

“We been called out 600 times between December 5th and December 14th, up from 450 in the same period last year, it's a big jump,” Lieutenant-Colonel Gabriel Plus, the brigade's spokesman, told AFP on Tuesday.

READ ALSO VIDEO Riding on the pavement, blocking cyclists – the tweets that show why Parsians are fed up with scooter riders

“Obviously it's because of the strikes, there is a lot more traffic and inexperienced or poorly equipped people are using bikes or other alternatives,” he said.

The novice two-wheelers are colliding with pedestrians but also being struck by cars, Plus said, though most are suffering only minor injuries that do not require hospital visits.

But the gridlock that has also brought thousands more drivers onto the roads means that firefighters are taking longer to respond to accidents.

“Fortunately we haven't had to make any major interventions, like for a big fire,” Plus said.

 

Tuesday marked the 13th day of the strike, which has kept half or more of the city's metro lines completely shut and severely crimped service on suburban rail lines.

Since last year, Paris has been flooded with at least 15,000 electric scooters available for rent, drawing the ire of residents and city officials complaining they are cluttering up already crowded sidewalks and squares.

During the first day of the strike on December 5th, the environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion claimed the sabotage of 3,600 electric scooters in Paris and other French cities, saying the green image of the gadgets hid an “ecologically catastrophic” reality.

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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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