French teachers strike in protest at Covid-19 risks

A nationwide school strike in France on Tuesday only rallied small numbers, with less than 10 percent of the country's teachers joining in, according to the education ministry.

French teachers strike in protest at Covid-19 risks
Teacher union representatives denounce the Covid-19 rules in place in French high schools and secondary schools, in Pau, southwestern France, on November 10th. Photo: AFP

A group of five teaching unions, representing teachers in primary schools, secondary and lycée, called for a one-day nationwide strike on Tuesday, November 10th.

Not all teaching unions joined the strike action, which was called to protest the current Covid-19 health situation in school, and its impact varied around France.

France's education ministry said on Tuesday afternoon that 9.58 percent of the country's teachers participated in the strike action. 

In Paris the level of participation was slightly higher in secondary schools (15.3 percent), but down at 4.5 percent in high schools (although 8.7 percent in technical colleges).

Unions said the overall number was higher, 20 percent on a national level, Snuipp-FSU representative Guislaine David told AFP.

In the country's collèges (secondary schools), 45 percent of teachers participated, according to SNES-Fsu.

Still, unionists expressed disappointment over the results.

“The objective is that the schools remain open until June, but without additional resources, how are we going to ensure social distancing and reduce staff?” David said.

A representative for the Snes-FSU union told French TV channel BFM: 

“We must go further to ensure the safety of staff, students and their families with measures for secondary schools – much forgotten in the ministerial announcements; a clear framework for the functioning of half classes; details on other elements of the health protocol, including cleaning and ventilation of rooms, which remain vague in the current protocol.”

Several blockages

Students of five Parisian high schools attempted to stage blocus (blockages), which is the French term used about physically blocking the entry during a strike action.


Videos on social media showed how police officers sometimes clashed with the high schoolers as they tried to pile bins outside their school gates. 



The protocol in French schools has varied significantly during the pandemic, from a total closure in March, April and May to the current situation where schools are hosting full attendance, but with a raft of rules in place including compulsory masks for all pupils over the age of six and teachers.

Bac cancelled

Last week education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer announced the cancellation of many exams for the 2021 baccalaureate, as well as a guarantee of 50 percent face-to-face teaching time for all pupils in lycée (high school).

At present most lycée classes are in-person, so the announcement seems to herald an increase in online teaching for older students.

Universities are already limited to having half the normal number of students in lecture halls, and are running some teaching online.

Pupils at some French schools have already staged protests over health regulations that they say are too lax.


Member comments

  1. I would love to see some reporting or explainer on the role of parents as it relates to the French school system. The directrice at our maternelle has cancelled all parent meetings due to COVID, but then does not wear a mask everyday when greeting the parents and children. I feel a bit powerless since none of the other parents seem to care. How much do French parents get involved in their child’s school affairs? Thanks for considering to cover this!

  2. And there they are standing wearing useless masks cosy close together! you wonder why there are still many infections, after all everyone wears a mask! And than incase you are not aware……. you can’t get covid if you eat! Those same mask wearing kids eat without mask cosy together in the canteen. If those masks work you would see a difference in the stats, infections only up because with a mask you can not get covid. If only this was true!

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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.