Why French unions are planning strikes on Tuesday and how it could affect you

French trade unions have called for strikes on Tuesday in an ongoing dispute over the government's reform to unemployment benefits - union leaders also want to put "social issues" on the campaign agenda for the 2022 presidential elections.

Protesters demand the 'withdrawal of the unemployment insurance reform' in Paris on March 26th.
Protesters demand the 'withdrawal of the unemployment insurance reform' in Paris on March 26th. French workers will once again protest the reform on October 5th. Photo: Bertrand GUAY / AFP.

Who is going on strike? 

A number of leading French trade unions including the CGT, FO, Solidaires and the FSU have called for strikes on Tuesday. 

They are calling for all workers across the public and private sectors, as well as students, to down tools.

The CFDT, which has the largest membership of any trade union, has not called on its members to strike. 

Why are they striking? 

A reform to unemployment benefits appears to have been the trigger for this strike. October 1st marked the implementation of a new system which will likely see unemployed people receive less money from the state. 

READ MORE: How unemployment benefits in France are changing in October

Besides scrapping this reform, the unions are demanding a number of measures including:

  • Increased salaries
  • A scrapping of proposed pension reforms
  • Professional equality between men and women
  • A halt on redundancies and tighter enforcement of labour laws
  • A halt on privatisation and closure of public services

Speaking on France Inter over the weekend, Philippe Martinez, head of the CGT, suggested that with the presidential election fast approaching, he wanted “social questions to be at the heart of the campaign”.

This view was echoed by the head of the FO, Yves Veyrier, speaking on France 2.

“On October 5th, it is in our interest to send a strong signal,” he said, before making reference to the upcoming electoral process. 

“We need workers to mobilise at the moment. We need to have everyone show that we do not intend to let things slide.” 

Strike action is certainly one way to shape the agenda and could have an influence on manifesto pledges in the build up to the April 2022 election. 

How will this affect me? 

200 strike meetings have been convened across the country. You can see if your city will be affected by checking the interactive map at the bottom of this page

In Paris, a procession will set off from Place de la République at 14h, heading in the direction of Opéra, before finishing at the corner of Rue La Fayette and Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin. Police have yet to confirm road closures but they would appear likely within the 3rd, 9th, 10th and 11th arrondissements on Tuesday afternoon. Traffic may be slower than usual in the rest of the city, depending on the scale of the procession. 

Workers from the public transport companies SNCF and RATP will join the strike leading to minor disruption.

TGV, Thalys, Eurostar and Lyria rail services will be running as normal. Most intercity trains, TERs and public transport within Ile de France will be running as normal or offering replacement services. In Normandy, SNCF has warned that there will be significant disruption to TER train services.

The Paris metro and RER will be largely unaffected. However, the T3 tram line will be very disrupted. Bus services in the French capital will be slower than usual.

A number of transport operators in other cities have also warned commuters to expect delays. In Nice, for example, no trams will be running on lines 1, 2 or 3, and two dozen bus routes have also been cancelled.

There will be disruption to certain bus and tram routes in several French cities.

You can find full details here for Grenoble,

Details for Montpellier

Details for Rennes

Details for Toulouse

Details for Bordeaux

Details for Marseille

Details for Strasbourg

If you are planning on travelling on Tuesday it is worth checking the website of the local transportation operator before leaving.

Member comments

  1. So the country is trying to drag itself out of the financial mess caused by the virus and what do the Unions do to help the situation? Go on strike. One just can’t teach the ignorant.😮

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For members


How to get a summer job in France

As the summer holidays approach in France, many employers are looking for seasonal workers - so if you're looking for a summer job, here's how to go about it.

How to get a summer job in France

There are thousands of employment offers in France – a simple internet search for jobs d’été came up with numerous jobs boards offering work in France, while the government-backed Centre d’Information et de Documentation pour la Jeunesse (CIDJ) offers advice and information on all aspects of life for young people in France, including finding seasonal work and summer placements.

Sectors including agriculture, hospitality and tourism are always recruiting in the summer, seeking fruit-pickers, holiday camp workers and serving/hotel staff.

But what are the rules for people seeking summer jobs?

READ ALSO Vendange: What you really sign up for when you agree to help with the French wine harvest


Children from the age of 16 (under certain circumstances, the age limit drops to 14) who are legally resident in France can work as long as they have written authorisation from their parents or legal guardians. A model authorisation letter is available here

Those under the age of 18 cannot undertake certain jobs for health and safety reasons.

In the following circumstances, children as young as 14 or 15 can work during school holidays.

  • The holidays must last at least 14 days;
  • The child must work no more than half the days of the holiday – so, if a vacation period is two weeks, they can work for no more than one of those weeks;
  • The child is given ‘light duties’ that offer no risk to their safety, health, or development;
  • From the age of 15 and if the child has completed their troisieme education, a minor can register for an apprenticeship. 


Salary is usually paid monthly and will have a payslip. For those aged 18 and over, pay will be at least equal to the minimum wage.

 For those aged 14 to 17, who have less than six months’ professional experience, the minimum allowed rate is 80 percent of the minimum wage. For those aged 17 to 18, the rate rises to a minimum of 90 percent of France’s minimum wage.

  • The minimum wage in France is currently €10.85 gross per hour (€1,645.58 gross per month based on a 35-hour week);
  • the employment contract is fixed-term and can take different forms (fixed-term contract, seasonal employment contract, temporary employment contract, etc);
  • Seasonal employees are subject to the same obligations as the other employees of the company and have access to the same benefits (canteens, breaks, etc.).

Under 18s have certain additional protections:

  • between the ages of 14 and 16, during school holidays, employees on any contract cannot work more than 35 hours per week nor more than 7 hours per day;
  • They cannot work at night;
  • Those aged 14 to under 16 working during their school holidays can only be assigned to work which is not likely to harm their safety, their health or development.

Right to work in France

If you’re a French citizen or hold permanent residency in France then you have the right to work, but for foreigners there are extra restrictions.

Anyone who holds the passport of a EU/EEA country or Switzerland, is free to work in France or to travel to France seeking work without needing a visa or work permit.

Most other people will need permission to work in France – even if it’s only for a short period or for casual work such as grape-picking. Depending on your country of origin you may need a visa – everything you need to know about that is here.

In addition to the visa, you may also need a work permit, which is the responsibility of the employer.  To employ anyone in France for less than 90 days, an employer must get a temporary work permit – before the prospective employee applies for a short stay visa. This permit is then sent to the embassy at which the employee is applying for a visa.

If you come from countries including the UK, USA and Canada you can spend up to 90 days in France without a visa – but you may still need a work (convention d’accueil) if you want to work while you are here.

READ ALSO Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in France

Certain countries have specific ‘seasonal worker’ visas on offer, for certain sectors which allows – for example – Canadians to come to France and work the ski season. 

Cash-in-hand jobs

Certain sectors which have a lot of casual workers – for example seasonal fruit-picking – do have cash-in-hand jobs, known in France as marché noir (black market) or simply travail au black (working on the black, or working illegally). 

This is of course illegal and working this way carries risks – as well as the possibility of losing your job if labour inspectors turn up you are also in a vulnerable position. If your employer suddenly decides not to pay you, or make unexpected deductions from your wages, there is very little you can do about it since you won’t have any kind of work contract.