French teachers stage national strike over pay and working conditions

Some schools closed as France’s largest teaching unions staged a one-day strike on Tuesday demanding better working conditions and higher salaries.

French teachers stage national strike over pay and working conditions
Teachers demonstrating in Paris on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

Six unions called the national protest action – FSU, FO, SNCL, Sud Solidaires, CGT Education and Snalc  which together represent around three quarters of the country's teachers – demanding better working conditions, higher salaries and protesting over the government’s education budget for 2021.

“The number of teachers is insufficient, they are much less paid and classes are busier than in other European countries,” the national union for teachers and professors, SNUIpp-FSU, wrote in a letter addressed to the parents.

A march took place in the centre of Paris and there were also numerous smaller protests around the country.

The education ministry put the percentage of teachers who had walked out at 11 percent, while the unions said between 30 and 40 percent of the country's teachers were on strike.

Teachers in France have long made their discontent regarding staff, resources and salaries known through protests and sporadic strike-actions, but their dissatisfaction with the current government seems to have grown during the pandemic.

More than three in four (77 percent) of the teachers asked by pollsters in December told the polling institute Ipsos that they did not believe their worries were “taken into consideration” by the education ministry.

More than four in five (81 percent) said they felt poorly or very poorly protected faced with the Covid-19 virus, according to a second survey conducted by FSU in December. 

In September, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer announced a €400 million-package to bump up teachers' salaries across the country “starting from January”.

However, 69 percent of the country's teachers would not benefit from the measure, FSU said.

They also said the 2021 budget did not sufficiently take into consideration the extraordinary health situation, which forced schools to reduce the number of pupils per class.

“Parliament has adopted a budget that falls far short of the educational ambition our country needs,” said the FSU Union in a press statement they co-signed together with FO, SNCL, Sud Solidaires, CGT Education.

Nor did the budget consider “the state of fatigue of the staff, exhausted by years of deteriorating working conditions,” they wrote.

France has vowed to keep schools open despite the current Covid-19 health crisis, saying they will be the last establishments to close in order to stem the viral spread.

Member comments

  1. So we are in the middle of a virus outbreak with the possibility of another lockdown yet these morons go on strike for a day. What an outstanding way to teach children responsibility. France yet again ruled by unions. Macron should show what little backbone he has and stamp down on them once and for all before they drag the country further down like they did to the UK.

  2. My teenager had the day off today because of NO teachers in the Lycee. Unfortunately they didn’t mention it on Monday. My teenager had to call me to pick her up – an hour and ten minutes drive. Thanks teachers!

  3. My kids knew the strike was happening since last Friday… which means that your kid’s teachers and school knew – but didn’t bother to mention it. If I had to say the most irritating thing about France – it is the lack of communication (generally). Boggles the mind – how much easier daily life can be with good information flow, but seems like an easy life is not what the French strive for!

    And yes, THIS time, we were told in advance – but frankly, I was shocked to hear about it a couple of days before!

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French public urged to wear face masks again on public transport

With France in the middle of a new wave of Covid-19, the country's health minister has urged the public to once again wear face masks on public transport and in crowded spaces.

French public urged to wear face masks again on public transport

With cases on the rise again, French Health Minister Brigitte Bourguignon said she is “[asking] the French to put masks back on in transport” in an interview with RTL on Monday, 

For the time being, however, she stressed it was just advice, rather than an obligation, and masks have in fact been recommended on public transport since the legal requirement to wear them was lifted in May. 

However with France reporting over 50,000 daily cases of Covid-19 the government is clearly concerned by the current wave of the pandemic.

Bourguignon said that “we must protect ourselves and protect others,” adding that wearing a mask is “a civic gesture.”

She urged people to don their masks as soon as they see a crowded train or station.

READ MORE: Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

In addition to public transport, Bourguignon is also asking the French to once again mask-up in “all crowded, enclosed areas.”

Currently, masks are only required in hospitals, health centres and places that have vulnerable residents such as nursing homes. They are recommended in crowded spaces where it is impossible to practice social distancing.