No breakthrough in French strike talks means more transport disruption on Friday

Another day of talks between the French government and the unions has produced no breakthrough - despite some positive noises - and now pilots might be joining the strike. Here's the latest on the transport situation for Friday.

No breakthrough in French strike talks means more transport disruption on Friday
No breakthrough in talks means another day of strike action. Photo: AFP

On the plus side the French unions and government ministers are now at least sitting down and talking to each other about the controversial proposed pension reforms, and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Thursday that there had been “advances”.

The French government wants to streamline France's current highly complicated pension system of 42 different regimes into one universal system, but unions say this will leave many people working longer and for a smaller pension pot.

But despite the positive noises – including one of the smaller unions Unsa saying it would be in favour of a break for the Christmas holidays – there is still no breakthrough so strikes continue across France on Friday, marking the 16th day of strike action.

And in fact in January things could be set to get worse, with the announcement on Thursday that unions representing pilots and flight crew are calling or strike action from January 3rd, after their own talks with the government broke down.

READ ALSO Pilots and air crew threaten to join French pension strikes in January

So here's what is scheduled for Friday;

On the railways there is another slight improvement in the services that are running.

Half of the usual high speed TGV services are running, along with 9 in 10 of the budget Ouigo lines.

The Intercité services are still quite badly disrupted, with one one in four services running and just four in 10 services on the local TER services.


SNCF has also said that over the weekend of December 21st and 22nd half its usual services will run, and on December 23rd and 24th it will be 40 percent of the normal service.

A full strike timetable running up to December 26th will be announced on Friday evening.

In Paris around half of Metro lines are now running, albeit with most of them offering a limited service during rush hour only.

Six lines remain closed completely – 3bis, 5, 6, 7bis, 12 and 13.

Lines 1 and 14 – which are automated – are runing as normal as they have done throughout the strikes.

The other lines – 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 – are running fewer trains than normal and only running during rush hour – 6.30am to 9.30am and 4.30pm to 7.30pm. Several stations on each line – mostly the interchange stations – remain closed.

Tram lines 2, 5, 6 and 8 are running as normal, while lines 7 and 3b are running all day, but with fewer services than normal.

Line 1 is running rush hour only and 3a is also running a limited service.

The RER lines are still running a limited service and around 60 percent of buses will run.

In the air, despite the threats of January action, there is no disruption set for Friday, while Eurotunnel's Le Shuttle is also running as normal.

Friday is the last day of term for most French schools, so the roads may be busier than usual as French parents start their holiday getaway early, although the majority of people were set to travel over the weekend.

A total of 1.7 million people had booked train tickets for the weekend of December 21st and 22nd, but with SNCF now saying that it can only run half its normal services, at least some of the 850,000 disappointed ticket holders are likely to take to the roads.

And blockades at several sorting offices, as well as sporadic action from some postal workers, has lead to La Poste warning that not all Christmas presents will be delivered in time and some parcels might be arriving on December 26th and 27th instead.

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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.