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TRANSPORT

Dozens of roadblocks across France as drivers protest rising fuel prices

Roads across France have been blocked on Monday as drivers take part in mobilisations to protest rising fuel prices, with more disruption expected later in the week.

Protestors with tractors and heavy machinery block a road in France.
Protestors with tractors and heavy machinery block a road in France. They are angry about rising fuel prices. (Photo by FRED TANNEAU / AFP)

Truckers, taxi drivers and construction workers have been blocking roads across France on Monday, with further protests expected over the rising cost of fuel.

After a weekend of smaller scale protests, Monday saw disruption in several areas including;

  • Marseille

Taxi and other private vehicle drivers organised protests around Marseille and in the city centre on Monday morning, driving in very slow processions to bring traffic to a standstill – a method known as an opération escargot (snail operation) or a rolling roadblock.

  • Doubs

In the eastern département of Doubs, taxi drivers organised an opération escargot of their own, holding up traffic between the Franche-Comté train station in Auxons, all the way to a supermarket in Châteaufarine. They plan to encircle the town of Besançon.

  • Northern France

The north – a key area for European hauliers – was one of the hardest hit parts of the country, with truckers blocking the A1 and A23 motorways. They have also blocked transport hubs near Lens and in the city of Lille. In the Somme département, a short-lived blockade cut off traffic on the A1. 

In the Normandy département of Manche, truckers began blocking interchange between the N174 and the A84 motorway at about 5am, blocking heavy goods vehicles but allowing cars to pass. In Calvados, fisherman briefly blockaded a motorway toll station. 

  • Charente-Maritime 

The préfecture of Charente-Maritime, in the southwest, warned of traffic jams on N11. Blockages were also set up near Lagord at around 4am. The N237, connecting La Rochelle and Ile de Ré was blocked off. 

The Yelo bus depot was also blocked in La Rochelle, meaning that bus lines 1b, 7a, 8, 16, 11 and 13 are out of service. 

  • Brittany 

Monday morning saw extensive traffic in Brittany, with slow movements along the N165 and N137 – principally caused by effective opérations escargots

How long could this disruption last? 

Hauliers associations like the OTRE and FNTR called off their plans to protest on Monday after receiving €400 million in direct support from the government last week. 

A spokesperson for the FNTR told The Local that it did not have further plans for mobilisation during the week. 

But taxi drivers and regular car owners could come out in force later in the week, as they have not received the same support as the hauliers. 

As part of its resilience plan to insulate the economy from the war in Ukraine, the government will lower fuel prices by €0.15 per litre of fuel from April 1st. Tax payers, including non-drivers, will ultimately pick up the tab. 

READ MORE France’s plan to protect its economy from effects of Ukraine war

On Thursday, public transport workers in Paris and Ile-de-France will go on strike for an undefined period of time, with one union warning commuters that the action could be “long and hard”.

sMore details of the service disruption will be released on Thursday evening.

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STRIKES

Strike to ‘strongly disturb’ Parisian bus and tram services on Monday

Strikes over working conditions means that bus and tram lines in the French capital will be running at 60 percent capacity on Monday, with further disruption expected later in the week.

Strike to 'strongly disturb' Parisian bus and tram services on Monday

A fresh wave of strikes at the RATP – the company responsible for operating public transport in Paris – will result in widespread disruption on Monday. 

While Metro and RER services will run as normal, bus and tram services will operate at a significantly reduced capacity. 

In a notice to passengers published on Sunday evening, the RATP said that some bus lines would be closed completely. Only two out of three buses will run on the lines that remain open during the daytime. The night bus service will run as normal. 

On average, three out of five trams will run on Monday. 

Normal traffic is expected on tramlines T5, T6 and T7. 

On T1, only one out of two trams will run, with a ten minute interval between each shuttle. The line will only run between Gare de Noisy and Gare de Gennevilliers. Operation times are limited to 06:00-11:00 and 15h:00-20:00. 

On T2, only one out of two trams will run during rush hour. The line will connect Porte de Versailles and Puteaux with shuttles running every ten minutes during rush hour and every 20 minutes outside of this. Between Pont de Bezons and Charlebourg, shuttles will run every five minutes during rush hour and every fifteen minutes outside of this. 

T3a will operate one out of every two trams, exclusively between Pont du Garigliano and Porte d’Italie. The line will run from 06:30-11:00 and 16:30-21:00. 

T3b will operate half of all trams, exclusively between Porte de Vincennes and Porte de la Chapelle. Traffic will only run from 06:00-10:30 and 15:30-20:00. 

The T8 line is by far the most disrupted with only one in every four trams running. The line will only operate between Saint-Denis – Porte de Paris et Epinay–Orgemont. Trams will run between 06:00-10:00 and 16:00-20:00. 

Further strike action is expected on Wednesday, although RATP are yet to disclose the scale of that later disruption. 

What is behind the strikes? 

Bus and tram workers are striking over proposed plans to open up RATP services to subsidiary companies, with changes to working conditions.

As of January 1st, 2025, all bus will be transferred to the subsidiaries or competing companies who won bids issued by the regional transport authority, Île-de-France Mobilités. 

RATP plans to put the new working conditions into effect – those that would have been set to apply in 2025 – as early as July. These changes would impact at least 18,000 drivers. 

Specifically, drivers will fall under the “territorial social framework” (CST), the minimum legal framework for working hours, which will require 35 hours of work per week (and 37 hours per week for select drivers). Currently, the RATP’s rules regarding working hours are more advantageous, with the average driver working 33 hours a week (excluding overtime and travel time). 

Union management has been fighting against these proposed changes for over a year, having already held a strike March 25th, which impacted over 30 percent of bus lines in the Paris region.

Now, they calling for mobilisation to “defend their working conditions” again.

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