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More protests, strikes and garbage piles: What to expect in France this week

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More protests, strikes and garbage piles: What to expect in France this week
Unionists stand on the highway next to French gendarmes during a free toll operation on the A4 in Saint-Avold, eastern France, on March 21, 2023 (Photo by Jean-Christophe Verhaegen / AFP)

From strikes and protests to political fireworks and spontaneous protests - here's what to expect this week in France as protests continue over pension reform.


What happened on Monday?

On Monday, France's parliament voted to reject two votes of no-confidence vote, which were brought after prime minister Elisabeth Borne used Article 49.3 to push through the pension reform bill without a vote in the Assemblée Nationale.

The first vote of no-confidence only lost by nine votes, while the other, which was tabled by the far-right National Rally party, was overwhelmingly rejected.

EXPLAINED: What does Monday's no-confidence vote mean for Macron and France?


Protests erupted across France on Monday night as thousands of people took to the streets. According to Le Parisien, there were at least 287 arrests across France as police and protesters clashed.

So what's next...?

Tuesday and Wednesday

More sporadic, unplanned demos in protest against pension reform are expected across France on Tuesday, which are likely to spread into Wednesday as well. 

There may also be blockades on autoroutes and ring roads around major cities. For example, unions have called for Lyon to be a "dead city" on Tuesday, where "nothing goes in or out" in an effort to paralyse the economy, according to France 3. Franceinfo also reported on Tuesday morning that blockades were planned on roads surrounding Toulouse and Beauvais, as well as in smaller towns such as Henvic in Brittany. 

In Marseille, dockers represented by the CGT union began demonstrations in front of the Bouches-du-Rhône departmental council building at 9am on Tuesday. In Rennes, a rally to support protesters who were arrested during pensions protests will take place in front of the judicial courthouse at 2pm on Tuesday.

Employees in certain industries have declared 'rolling' strikes, so disruption on railways is expected to continue through Tuesday and Wednesday, while the civil aviation authority has again ordered the cancelled of 20 percent of flights in and out of Paris Orly and Marseille airports on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

Other airports should be unaffected by cancellations but there is the risk of knock-on disruption and delays.

Even though the government has begun moves to force striking refuse collectors back to work, you can still expect to see a lot of garbage still piled up on the street (around 9,000 tonnes remained uncollected at the last count on Monday).

As for fuel, as of Monday about four percent of French service stations were reporting shortages, but the effects have been heavily concentrated in certain area, namely in the south of the country, with the Bouches-du-Rhône (the département that contains Marseille) reporting that 31.3 percent of the filling stations had run out of diesel. 

READ MORE: MAP: Where in France are blockades causing fuel shortages?

France's minister of transport, Clément Beaune, told France Inter on Tuesday morning that targeted requisitions of workers had begun at the oil depot of Fos-sur-Mer in order to respond to fuel shortages in the Bouches-du-Rhône département.


Thursday is scheduled as the next big one-day strike, with widespread disruption expected on public services including transport and in schools.

Previous one-day strikes have varied in their impact, but it's likely that there will be reduced service on the railways and on city public transport including in Paris and more cancelled flights. Schools are also likely to see some closes classes as teachers walk out.


Transport operators will publish detailed strike timetables on Wednesday - you can find the latest information on services in our strike section HERE.

There are also plans for large, organised demonstrations in towns and cities around France - these will be marches with a planned route rather than the spontaneous gatherings which happened last week after news that the pension reform bill would be pushed through without a parliamentary vote.


Most strikers will go back to work on Friday, although some of the more militant unions may extend their rolling strike actions. Unions leaders will decide on Thursday evening whether to call fresh one-day strikes or take a different action, and their decision will largely be based on turnout on Thursday.


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