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Strikes in France: Transport disruption continues on Tuesday as talks resume

Talks between the French government and striking workers over controversial pension reforms resume on Tuesday. But while there may be cause for optimism, transport services remain badly disrupted. Here's the outlook for Tuesday.

Strikes in France: Transport disruption continues on Tuesday as talks resume
Photo: AFP

Mass transportation strikes have now passed the one-month mark and are officially the longest in recent French history.

On Tuesday French officials resumed talks with unions Tuesday over a pension overhaul, which labour leaders say could force millions of people to retire later than they thought.

We'll be keeping up with the latest from resumed discussions between French unions and ministers aimed at bringing the dispute over pension reform to a close, but for those travelling on Tuesday there is still plenty of disruption.

READ ALSO What you need to know about the French government's proposed pension reforms

Here's what's happening;

 

On the railways three quarters of the usual high speed TGV services are running, including four in five of the usual services on the budget Ouigo lines.

On the Intercité services two in five services are running while things have improved in recent days for the local TER services – six out of 10 of the normal services are running.

On the suburban Transilien lines, there is half the normal service.

The disruption also applies to international services such as the Eurostar, which has already published a reduced timetable running until January 12th on its website.

 

In Paris city transport is still limited, although the majority of lines are now running a least a partial service.

All Metro lines are running on Tuesday, but only lines 1 and 14 – which are automated – are running as normal.

Lines 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 7bis, 8, 9, 10, 11 are running reduced services during rush hour only – 6.30am to 9.30am and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

Line 13 is running only during the morning rush hour, lines 6 and 12 running only through the evening rush hour and line 3bis is running between 1pm and 6pm.

On all lines some stations remain closed, but the number of closed stations has also fallen in recent days. 

The tram services are broadly running as normal, with lines 2, 5, 7 and 8 completely normal, lines 1, 3b and 6 described as 'quasi normal' and line 3a running four out of five of its usual services.

On the RER suburban trains most lines are running all day, but with reduced services and trains at rush hour are still very busy, while on the buses two thirds of the usual services are running.

French workers are not paid during strikes and after a month with no pay many are finding it hard to make ends meet and are returning to work, meaning that transport operators can offer more services.

Around 30 percent of SNCF train drivers are still striking – compared to 85 percent at the start of the strike.

Flights look set to continue as normal and the disruption does not affect cross-Channel ferries or Eurotunnel's Le Shuttle.

Drivers should plan ahead though, as hardline union the CGT has called for a blockade of all eight of France's oil refineries starting from Tuesday, which could lead to shortages in filling stations over the coming days. 

Public support appears to be shifting in the government's favour, with just 44 percent backing the strike in an Ifop poll released Sunday, down seven points from the previous survey on December 19-20.

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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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