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French ski resort workers call ‘unlimited’ strike

Unions representing ski resort workers have called for unlimited strike action from the end of January, in part of the ongoing battle against pension reform plans.

French ski resort workers call 'unlimited' strike
A ski lift near the Pyrenees Catalanes natural park in southwestern France on January 10, 2023 . (Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

Two of the largest unions representing French ski lift operators and seasonal workers, FO (Force ouvrière) and the CGT, have filed “unlimited” strike notices starting on January 31st – the same day that unions across other sectors have called for another ‘mass strike’.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the strike will continue throughout February, but unions say they want to put pressure on the government to discuss both pensions and changes to benefits for seasonal workers, which particularly affect ski industry employees.

Force ouvrière union head, Eric Becker, said in a statement that lifts would operate normally on February 1st, and that the goal was not “to weaken companies that are already in difficulty”.

“We want to be heard and have our problems – those that impact seasonal workers – listened to”.  

At present, a strike has only been called for January 31st, but more dates could be added and the unions say they intend to take “strong action” during the Ski World Championships, held in Courchevel from February 6th to February 19th. Strikes in ski resorts usually primarily affect the operation of ski lifts. 

READ MORE: Grève illimitée or generale: 12 bits of French strike vocab you need to know

February represents peak season for ski resorts in France as French schools are on holiday and many schools also run ski trips to the Alps or Pyrenees. 

The CGT union representing ski resort workers had already called for mobilisation after a national meeting on January 12th, and the FO filed their strike notice on Monday.

Unions are calling on workers to strike in an effort to show opposition to French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. The unions’ demands also include calls for better wages and unemployment insurance that is better adapted to the experiences of seasonal workers.

Tuesday, January 31st, is the next ‘mass strike’ day, in which services such as trains, city public transport and schools are highly likely to be disrupted. 

READ MORE: Calendar: The French pension strike dates to remember

Member comments

  1. It is the ski world championships in Meribel Courchevel 6th to 19th February not Ski World Cup, held in Courchevel from March 16th-20th as published

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POLITICS

Macron gives ground to allies in unpopular pension reform bid

President Emmanuel Macron's government on Sunday offered a concession on contested French pension reforms, seeking to shore up support from prospective right-wing allies ahead of the parliamentary debate.

Macron gives ground to allies in unpopular pension reform bid

People who began work between the ages of 20 and 21 will be able to retire at 63, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne told the JDD weekly, rather than the headline age of 64 that has unions and large swathes of the public bristling.

“We hear the request” of MPs from the conservative Republicans party, whose votes are needed to make up a majority for the reform, Borne said.

Republicans leader Eric Ciotti had earlier told the Parisien newspaper that the change would “secure a very large majority” of his MPs.

Although re-elected to the presidency last year, Macron also lost his parliamentary majority and has been forced either to cobble together compromises or ram through laws using an unpopular constitutional side door.

But he has stuck to the widely disliked pension reform, against which hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated and many workers went on strike in two days of mass action so far, with more planned on February 7 and 11.

READ ALSO: What to expect from Tuesday’s strike in France

Meanwhile the left-wing opposition in parliament has submitted thousands of amendments to stymie debate on the law.

Borne also acknowledged demands from the Republicans and Macron’s Democratic Movement allies for a 2027 review of the reform, which aims to bring the pensions system out of deficit by 2030.

And she said the government would pile pressure on companies to end the practice of letting go of older employees, which leaves many struggling to find work in their final years before pension age.

READ ALSO: 5 minutes to understand French pension reform

“Too often, companies stop training and recruiting older people,” Borne said.

“It’s shocking for the employees and it’s a loss to deprive ourselves of their skills.”

Government plans will force companies to regularly publish details of how many older workers they employ, with Labour Minister Olivier Dussopt on Saturday trailing financial penalties for those which fail to do so.

READ ALSO: ANALYSIS: Who is winning the battle over French pension reform?

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