France faces more street protests as pension strikes continue on Thursday

Strikes on French public transport continued on Thursday as unions hold another 'protest day' including demonstrations and one-day walk-outs by teachers. Here's what's happening in France on Thursday.

France faces more street protests as pension strikes continue on Thursday
Photo: AFP

Thursday sees the latest in a series of 'protest days' as mass transport strikes enter their 43rd day in the long-running dispute over pension reform.

In addition to the by-now-normal disruption, there will be demonstrations in French cities including Paris.

Several professions who have not taken part in the unlimited strike action have also called for one-day strikes on Thursday including teachers, so some schools are closed for the day.

On the railways there is a mini milestone as for the first time since December 4th – the day preceding the historic – strikes one part of the network are running normally.


Services on the budget Ouigo line are listed as 'normal' for Thursday, an improvement on the 'quasi normal' services that ran on Wednesday.

On other types of train services there is still disruption, however.

On the high-speed TGV services eight out of 10 of the normal services are running, with the same level of service on the local TER trains.

Three quarters of the normal Transilien trains, which serve the Greater Paris region, are running and three out of five of the normal Intercité routes.

French workers are not paid during strikes so the general pattern during long-term industrial action is that more and more people return to work as time goes on.

Previous 'protest days' have seen a dip in services as more workers take part in demonstrations, but it seems that neither SNCF or RATP are anticipating losing a significant amount of extra workers to the protest day, judging by the services they are able to run.

Employees in certain sectors such as public transport are legally required to give their employer 48 hours notice of their intention to strike.

The same pattern can be seen on the Paris public transport network, where many services are now running as normal.

All the tram lines are running as normal on Thursday along with four out of five of the normal bus routes.

Lines 1 and 14 – which are automated – are running as normal as they have throughout the strike but for the first time since December 4th a non-automated line – line 11 – is running normally too.

The majority of the other lines are now running for most of the day, albeit with fewer services than normal and with some stations still closed.

Line 2 is running from 5.30am to 1.30am.

Line 3 – 6am to 10pm.

Line 3bis – 7am to 6pm.

Line 4 – 6.30am to 7.30pm.

Line 5 – 6am to 11am and 2pm to 9pm

Line 6 – 5.30am to 10am and 3.30pm and 8pm.

Line 7 – 5.30am to 7.30pm.

Line 7 bis – 5.30am to 8.30pm.

Line 8 – 5.30am to 9.30pm.

Line 9 – 6.30am to 10am and 4.30 to 8pm.

Line 10 – 5.30am to 1.30am.

Line 12 6.30am to 10am and 4.30pm to 8pm

Line 13 5.30am to 11.30am and 5.30pm to 11.30pm. 

On the RER suburban trains services are running all day, albeit with fewer trains than normal, and the RER line B which links Charles de Gaulle airport to the city is no longer stopping at Gare du Nord.

The biggest demonstration is expected to be in Paris, although numbers have been falling at recent marches.

The main demonstration sets off from Montparnasse at 1.30pm and heads east through the city to end up at Place d'Italie.

Previous union marches on pension reform have been largely peaceful, but have attracted a few dozen 'Black Bloc' hooligans who have smashed bus stops and set fire to street furniture.

However the march on January 9th ended in clashes in central Paris and accusations of police violence after various videos were published on social media.

The Paris préfecture has therefore ordered all shops, bars and restaurants along the route of Thursday's demonstration to close.

There will be a heavy police presence in the capital both along the demonstration route and at major transport interchanges such as Gare du Nord, which was the scene of skirmishes between police and demonstrators after a march earlier in January.

Blockades at seven French ports are expected to continue until Friday. This lead to some ferry companies cancelling sailings, although many others are running as normal. For more information click here.

Also continuing is a three-day strike by some air traffic controllers. The impact of this was minimal on Wednesday with most airlines running as normal, but anyone who has a flight booked on Thursday is advised to check with their airline.


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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.