French transport strikes: ‘Black Monday’ brings little disruption

A promised 'Black Monday' by striking transport workers was a lighter shade of grey as the majority of public transport services in Paris were running normally.

French transport strikes: 'Black Monday' brings little disruption
The majority of services are running as normal. Photo: AFP

Unions had promised a 'Black Monday' of disruptions in their long-running dispute over proposed changes to the French pension system.

On Monday the French parliament, the Assemblée nationale, will start debating the changes, which propose replacing France's currently highly complicated system with a single, universal system.

The government says the universal system would be fairer and more transparent, and would benefit people on very low incomes and women who take time out of work to have children.

But unions say the changes will leave people working longer and for smaller pensions.

The changes propose to leave the legal pension age in France at 62, but only grant full pensions to people who work until they are 64.

They would also do away with the 'special regimes' which allow many workers, particularly in the public sector, to retire earlier – some train drivers can currently retire from the age of 55.

President Emmanuel Macron's ruling La République en Marche party has a majority in parliament so the proposals are expected to pass in the end, although 40,000 amendments to the bill have been proposed.

“The Unsa-RATP traction division, the leading railway operating union, is organising and continuing the fight against this iniquitous retirement reform”, Laurent Djebali, representing Metro and RER drivers who belong to the Unsa-RATP union, said in a press release.
“Unsa-RATP calls on all Metro and RER employees to mobilise strongly for a Black Monday in transport.”
Here's what's running in Paris:

On the Metro no lines are closed but some lines will be running fewer trains than normal

Line 1: normal.

Line 2: two trains in three of the normal services

Line 3: normal.

Line 3bis: normal.

Line 4: two trains in three

Line 5: one train in four in the morning, one train in three in the afternoon, last service departs at 9pm

Line 6: normal.

Line 7: three trains in four

Line 7 bis: normal.

Line 8: three trains in four

Line 9: normal.

Line 10: normal.

Line 11: normal.

Line 12: one train in two

Line 13: three trains in four

Line 14: normal.

Traffic on the bus and tram network is running as normal while RER line B – which connects Paris to both its main airports – is also running as normal.

Elsewhere on the RER network all lines are running as normal apart from Line H, which is not running between Pontoise and Creil – a substitute bus service is in place. 

Across the rest of France, SNCF is not reporting any strike-related disruption on the train network, although there us some disruption in northern France related to Storm Dennis.

There is also a protest planned in Paris, organisers are calling for people to meet at 1.30pm at the Place de l'Opéra in the 9th arrondissement and march towards the Assemblée nationale building on the other side of the river.

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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.