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

Public transport around France remains limited on Friday as mass transportation strikes reach day 23 - the longest such action since the 1980s.

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

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.

READ ALSO Is the French government close to a deal with striking workers?

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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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.