France strike: Airports and trains hit by more action
More major strike action is planned in France today (Tuesday December 17), with disruption expected on trains and at airports, as well as schools and hospitals - as one million are expected to march.
Many unions called for strike action to continue today, including the FO-CGT-FSU-Solidaires alliance, youth unions MNL, Unef and UNL; and the CFDT and CFTC. The latter two groups are in favour of the government’s proposed universal system, but dispute what they see as changes to retirement age.
Shops in Paris on the main protest march route from Place de la République to Place de la Nation have been asked to close during the action, with authorities fearing that the movement could turn violent.
The second major day of strike this week comes one day after retirement high-commissioner Jean-Paul Delevoye resigned from his position.
TGVs and trains
SNCF has confirmed that just one in four TGVs are running, as are one in four Ouigo services, one in five Transilien, 30% of TER, and 5% of Intercites
Eurostar services remain affected by “a reduced timetable” until at least December 19, with passengers advised to check their trains before travelling.
Airports and airlines
Civil aviation union l'Aviation Civile-CGT has called on air traffic control staff to rejoin the strike, after most workers went back to work on December 11. This has prompted the DGAC (French Civil Aviation Authority) to ask airlines to reduce their flight schedules to and from Paris Orly.
Some flights to and from France and flying into French airspace are likely to be affected.
EasyJet has said it has been “advised” of the strike, and said: “We expect that there will be delays and cancellations due to the industrial action, therefore we advise all customers to check the status of their flight on our flight tracker.”
Ryanair has also apologised for “inconvenience caused by this national strike”, and said it had been “forced to cancel a number of flights”.
Customer Update - French National Strike, 17th December 2019: pic.twitter.com/JojIRALGpQ— Ryanair (@Ryanair) December 17, 2019
Air France said it was planning to operate “almost 80% of our domestic flights from and to Paris Orly”, as well as all long-haul flights, and all flights to and from Paris Charles de Gaulle.
Yet, it said “last minute delays and cancellations cannot be excluded”.
Around 25% of teachers are expected to strike today, according to the education minister; although unions had planned for that number to be closer to 50%. In Paris, 178 out of 600 schools are expected to be closed, with up to 60% of teachers declaring they would strike.
Additional action among hospital staff today has been planned ever since the first day of mass strikes on December 5. The movement continues after nearly nine months of striking among emergency service workers.
According to an open letter by “hospital doctors of all specialties, in all hospitals, from all regions” feel that “we may have rung the alarm, but stretched conditions became austerity, and austerity then became poverty...the real minister for health is at [finance ministry] Bercy.”
Seven firefighter unions have said they will continue to strike, with intentions to continue action into January. They are presenting a number of grievances, including higher bonuses for dangerous jobs, and more protection against abuse while out on emergency calls.
Barristers council Le Conseil National des Barreaux is continuing to join the movement, and has condemned “the indifference of the Prime Minister and his government, deaf to the anger expressed by lawyers who have built an autonomous, strong and virtuous retirement system of our own”.
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