France strikes: No let-up in longest strikes since 1980s

France strikes: No let-up in longest strikes since 1980s
Photo: AFP
Public transport around France remains limited on Friday as mass transportation strikes reach day 23 - the longest such action since the 1980s.

Philippe Martinez, leader of one of the France's more hardline unions, struck a defiant note as he visited picketing bus workers at a depot on Friday.

“It's a strong movement and still supported by public opinion,” said Martinez, secretary general of the CGT union.

The unlimited strike action began on December 5th as a protest over the French government's plans to reform the country's pension system.

Now on day 23, the action is longer than the notorious 22-day strike of the winter of 1995 under late president Jacques Chirac against welfare cutbacks which forced the then government into a U-turn.

The longest transport strike in France lasted for 28 days, also over Christmas, in 1986 and early 1987.

Early in Emmanuel Macron's presidency, SNCF rail workers staged almost three months of rolling strikes, but these were only intermittent actions and on other days the trains ran as normal.

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Although some progress was made in talks before Christmas, unions said it was not enough to call off the strikes or declare a Christmas truce.

With talks not scheduled to restart until January 6th, there is no immediate end in sight for the conflict.

So here are the services running on Friday, December 27th:

On the trains 6 in 10 of the usual high speed TGV services are running and seven in 10 of the normal services on the budget Ouigo routes.

A third of Intercité trains are running and one in five of the suburban Transilien services, while the local TER services are the worst affected, with just four in 10 trains running.

 

International routes such as the Eurostar are also affected. Eurostar has already published a reduced timetable up to December 31st on its website.

In Paris services on the city's public transport network remain badly disrupted.

On the Metro, only lines 1 and 14 – which are automated – are running as normal.

Lines 3, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 10 are running a limited service at rush hour only, while lines 2 and 11 are running a limited morning-rush-hour-only service and line 12 is running a limited service only in the evening.

Lines 3bis, 5, 6, 7bis and 13 remain closed.

The tram service is almost back to normal with lines 3a and 3b described as 'quasi normal' and all other lines running their usual service.

However the RER suburban train – including the RER line B which links Paris to its two airports – remains badly disrupted with limited services running between 6.30am and 7pm.

On the buses, two thirds of the normal services are running.

 

There are no reported flight disruptions and Eurotunnel's Le Shuttle is running as normal.

If you are driving, traffic on major routes and around cities is expected to be heavier than normal, so leave plenty of time.

All the major French rail unions are still striking, but with the strike now going past the three-week mark many SNCF employees – who are not paid during strikes – will be feeling the pinch and their finances and returning to work, meaning that the rail operator can now offer more services than the 10 percent of the normal timetable that was running on the first day of the strike.

The strike rate dipped below 50 percent for the first time on SNCF on Monday, December 23rd and now around 44 percent of staff are still striking.


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