Strikes in France cause more travel misery on Monday

The conflict between France's striking transport workers and the government has entered a crucial week, with talks and more protests planned. Meanwhile the travel disruption in Paris and on the railways goes on. Here's the outlook for Monday.

Strikes in France cause more travel misery on Monday

CLICK HERE for the latest update on how the strikes will affect travel on Tuesday in France

The transport strikes which began over a month ago in protest at planned reforms to the French pension system continued on Monday with unions vowing to battle on despite an apparent fall in public support and a steep drop in the number of strikers.

Monday, January 6th marks the return to work for many in France after the festive season while schools will also open again after the holidays.

In Paris, transport authority RATP said there would be a slight improvement in the level of services compared to last Friday but overall travel around the capital would remain “very disrupted”.

That means all Metro lines are functioning partially on Monday, albeit far from offering a normal service to strike-weary commuters.

However when compared to the first day of the strike on December 5th, when most lines were completely closed, it marks a big improvement.

Lines, 2, 3,4,5, 7,7 bis, 8,10 and 11 are running reduced services during both morning rush hour (6.30am to 9.30am) and evening rush hour (4.30pm to 7.30pm). 

Line 13 is operating a reduced service during only the morning rush hour while lines 6 and 12 are running reduced services during evening rush hour.

Line 3bis will operate from 1pm until 6pm.

Many individual Metro stations on these lines remain closed however.

Lines 1 and 14, which are automated, are operating as normal as they have done since the beginning of the strike.

Tram services are running as normal and three quarters of the normal bus services are running in the capital.

The commuter lines RER A and RER B, which serves the two airports in Paris, are operating but at a reduced level. 

READ MORE: What happens next with the strikes in France?

There's better news for the trains with “significant improvement” compared to recent days and weeks.

Almost 80 percent of scheduled high-speed TGV trains are running on Monday as well as a similar number of low-cost Ouigo TGV trains.

Intercité trains that link France's cities and Transilien commuter services in the greater Paris region are running a third of the normal number of train services

Regional TER trains are operating about 60 percent of usual services.

SNCF is keen to stress that thousands of tickets are available for TGV and Intercité trains until Wednesday, many at a reduced rate.

The disruption also affects international train lines like the Eurostar, which is running a reduced timetable until January 11th. Cross Channel ferries and the Eurotunnel are not affected and flights are running as normal.

A new poll published on Friday showed a majority of 61 percent of French people still support the strike, although that was five points lower than a December 19th survey, according to pollster Odoxa.

After a month of disruption, French president Emmanuel Macron will on Monday hold his first cabinet meeting of 2020. The following day discussions with union leaders are set to resume, but so far neither side has appeared ready to give much ground.

Unions have called another day of mass demonstrations for Thursday, when teachers, hospital workers and others are expected to join the strike.

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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.