French ski resorts braced for strike over February holidays

French ski resorts are bracing themselves for possible disruption after unions called for a strike among seasonal workers.

French ski resorts braced for strike over February holidays
Skiers enjoying the slopes in Courchevel, France. Photo: AFP

The strike has been called by the hardline CGT union over proposals to change the French unemployment system, which the union says will shortchange the seasonal workers that the ski industry relies heavily upon.

CGT Transport says the action will be coordinated in French ski resorts in the Isère, Savoie and Haute-Savoie départements.

The strike is set for Saturday, February 15th which marks the mid-way point of the half term holiday for schools in the Paris region (zoneC) and the start of the “winter holidays” for schools in many of France's biggest cities (zone B).

Many British schools also start their half-term holiday on February 15th.

“Strike notices are going to be filed in all the resorts to take coordinated action with blockades in some places.

“We absolutely must inform tourists who are not at all aware of what is happening,” Antoine Fatiga, secretary general of CGT Transports, told France Info TV.

The strikes are expected to particularly impact on the ski lifts, whose operators are heavily represented by the CGT union.

The CGT's local union rep in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region Pierre Scholl said: “We call a strike on the ski lifts (La Plagne, les Arcs les Ménuires, Courchevel, Megève, the Pyrenees resorts etc).”

He added that other forms of action would be decided locally.

Most resorts asked by The Local said it was too early to tell exactly what the impact would be on services.

Changes introduced on January 1st represent a major overhaul of the French unemployment system.

Seasonal workers like ski resort staff can work during the high season, and then receive top-up payments from the Pôle emploi during the low season.

The new system will still allow them to do this, but the rate will be calculated in a different way that will leave many people worse off.

Unedic, the agency in charge of unemployment insurance, has calculated that the reform could have a negative impact on 850,000 people, with people losing up to 75 percent of their payments in extreme cases.

Pierre, who is based in the Courchevel ski resort, said: “The changes will drastically reduce the unemployment compensation. A bi-seasonal worker could lose almost half of his or her compensation, for many, it is hundreds of euros less per month to try to survive.

“Seasonal workers may even be excluded from unemployment altogether.”

The strike is not related to the transport strikes that hit the country in December and early January, which are to protest at plans to reform the French pension system.

The transport strikes have already led to 10 percent of holidaymakers cancelling their planned ski trips this winter, according to France Info.

Member comments

  1. “We absolutely must inform tourists who are not at all aware of what is happening,”
    Fat lot of good that will do. The tickets will presumably already been booked. Typical of the phoney and cynical concern for the public which the CGT repeatedly penalise and attack.

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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.