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STRIKES

Strikes in France: Unions and ministers set for crunch talks as transport disruption continues

Some potentially significant meetings will be taking place on Tuesday between French government ministers and unions in an attempt to resolve the transport strike. In the meantime industrial action enters its 41st day - here's how services are affected.

Strikes in France: Unions and ministers set for crunch talks as transport disruption continues
All photos: AFP

After a fairly significant concession from the French government over the weekend on its proposed pension reforms, unions have been having internal meetings on Monday and will be meeting labour minister Muriel Pénicaud on Tuesday.

But however well those meetings go, there is still strike action on Tuesday as the dispute enters day 41.

READ ALSO French strikes: So the government has compromised but what happens next?

Here's a look at what is happening.

 

On the railways there is – for the first time since December 4th – a 'quasi normal' service on trains running on the budget Ouigo routes.

On the high speed TGV routes eight out of 10 of the normal services are running.

Half the normal Intercité routes are running and three quarters of the local TER services. The suburban Transilien trains, meanwhile, is running seven out of 10 of their normal services.

In recent days both rail services and public transport in Paris have improved. French workers are not paid during strikes and as the dispute drags on many can no longer sustain the financial hit of more than a month without pay.

The same general pattern is seen in Paris, where services have once again improved, although there is still disruption.

Once again all Metro lines are running although only lines 1 and 14 – which are automated – are running a full service.

Lines 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 7bis, 9 and 12 are running rush hour only – 6.30am to 9.30am and 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

 Lines 2 and 10 are running all day, lines 8 and 11 are running from 6.30am to 7.30pm and 7pm respectively.

Line 3bis is running from 7am to 6pm and line 13 is running from 5.30am to 11am.

All the above lines are running fewer than normal trains and many stations on the lines remain shut.

All tram lines are back to running a normal service and the RER suburban trains are running all day, but with fewer services than normal.

The RER line B service from Charles de Gaulle airport stops at Gare du Nord.

Overall four out of five of the usual bus services are running.

Flights have not been affected since the start of the strike in early December, but this could change on Tuesday with the announcement that the air traffic controllers who are members of the USAC-CGT union will be taking strike action.

 

The union does not represent the majority of French air traffic controllers, however, so the impact on flights is likely to be fairly minimal. Anyone who has a flight booked is advised to check with their airline.

Teaching unions have also called for one-day strikes on Tuesday and Thursday this week, so parents face potential school closures or the loss of after school clubs or activities.

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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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